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World War / Veteran 
and Associate Profesi 
Columbia University 

he the man you knew or a stranger? Is h- bitter? hopeful? d 

illusioned? What sort of husband, father, ?on, will he make? Will v 


Jet demagogues exploit and subvert him as they have done els 

where? How can we help him 
find the road back? 

Will he sell apples and 
pawn his medals, or will we 
assure him a job? What of the 
disabled how can we restore 
him to usefulness? Will we 
make the grim mistake of 
spending too much too late 
and for the wrong people? 
These and other questions are 
answered in this book a real- 
istic discussion of America's 
gravest social problem. 

The Veteran's Future 
is in your hands 

and Your Future 
is in his hands! 

THIS book is written not only to 
help the veteran adjust to soci- 
ety, but also to help the veteran's 
father, mother, wife, sister, sweet- 
heart, to understand his state of mind. 
For it is only through a sympathetic 
understanding of what he has really 
become through war, that it is pos- 
sible to help him at all. This book 
deals with such concrete problems as: 
the veteran's marital relations deal- 
ing with the crippled veteran at home 
war brides and G.I. babies veter- 
con tinned on back flap 

From the collection of the 


v JUibrary 

San Francisco, California 












This book has been manufactured in conformity with 
government regulations for saving paper. A lighter- 
weight paper substantially reduces the bulk of our 
books, and narrower margins provide more words to 
each page. Smaller, more compact books save paper, 
metal, and labor. 


I wish to acknowledge indebtedness to Ann Rosenzweig and 
Ursula de Antonio for help in reading and digesting materials for 
this book, and to Stephen Brigham and George Kaplan for certain 
materials that they supplied. My colleagues at Columbia Uni- 
versity have offered criticisms and suggestions, and the staff of the 
Columbia University Library has been extremely helpful. Donald 
S. Howard, Russell H. Kurtz, and Sigrid C. Holt, of the Russell 
Sage Foundation, have also given assistance. Morris Zelditch, 
Director of War Services, Family Welfare Association of America, 
and Donald Ambler, of The Dryden Press, have kindly read the 
manuscript and have contributed certain excellent suggestions. 
Stanley Burnshaw, of The Dryden Press, has given help which 
amounted literally to collaboration. 

I wish to extend my thanks to all these, and to the authors and 
publishers who have permitted quotation of copyrighted materials. 
The illustration of the soldier on the jacket is used by permission 
of the United States Advertising Corporation, of Chicago. 

I must, of course, assume the full responsibility for any errors 
in this book, as well as for the opinions expressed therein. 

Barnard College 
Columbia University 


Prologue and Introduction 


Veterans and the War of Independence, 6 
Confederate Veterans and the Ku Klux Klan, 9 
German Veterans of World War I and Fascism, 10 
Veterans: America's Gravest Social Problem, 13 

PART ONE The Civilian Is Made into 

a Professional Soldier 


The Army's Will Is the Only Will That Counts, 19 
Regimentation Makes the Recruit a Soldier, 22 
Some Part of Every Soldier Fights the Army, 23 


The Army World Is the Real World to the Soldier, 27 
The Army Breeds a Culture of Its Own, 28 
The Soldier Becomes Estranged from His Loved Ones, 30 
He No Longer Speaks the Language of Civilians, 32 



The Hunger for Solidarity Is Satisfied, 37 
The Soldier's Loyalty Is Stronger Than Death, 38 
The Best Leadership Rests on Comradeship, 40 
Veterans Yearn to Recapture Their Lost Comradeship, 42 


The Soldier Takes Hatred and Cruelty for Granted, 45 
War- Weary Soldiers Fraternize with Their Enemies, 46 


An Episode Sometimes Condenses the Whole of Horror, 5 1 
Guilt Feelings Arise from One's Own Conflicting Motives, 52 


He "Takes the Cash and Lets the Credit Go," 58 
Courage and Valor Are the Highest Virtues, 59 


He Takes on New Attitudes to Make Life Bearable, 67 
He Is Reported Overwhelmingly Indifferent to Religion, 68 


Boredom Comes from Frustration, 73 

He Devises Ways of Escaping from Boredom, 75 


The Soldier Thinks the Army's Job Is Done, 77 



War Takes Over the Economic System, 82 

War Plays Havoc with Family Relationships, 83 

Juvenile Delinquency, Education, Boom Towns, 84 

Race Riots and Other Explosions, 86 

Civilians Are the First to Weary of War, 88 

The Chasm between the Army and Society Deepens, 89 

PART TWO The Soldier-Turned-Veteran 

Comes Back to an 
Alien Homeland 


Military Skills Are Useless for Peacetime Living, 92 
The Soldier Comes Home Angry, 95 
How Far Is This Bitterness Justified? 105 
How Long Does This Bitterness Last? 109 


The Civilian World Is Changed, Confused, 113 

Every Veteran Is at least Mildly "Shell-Shocked," 115 

The Veteran Is Somewhat Like a "Motherless Chile," 119 

And So, Is Often Dependent, 121 

And Sometimes Criminal, 124 

. . . But Everything Worth While Takes Time, 127 



War Brides of World War II, 131 
The Veteran Doubts His Ability to Love, 134 
Are War Marriages Really Marriages? 136 
Chances for Success of Post- War Marriages, 139 


The Veteran Must Usually Start at the Bottom, 144 
He Feels That His Country Owes Him a Job, 145 
From Army Caste System to Peacetime Class System, 147 


Veterans: A Very Special Type of Student, 151 
Their Difficulty in Adjusting to School, 154 


The Disabled: Society's Greatest Responsibility, 159 
McGonegal and Gibson: Two Remarkable Veterans, 162 
The Veteran Who Is Psychoneurotic, 165 
The Choices in Dealing with Psychoneurotics, 168 
Pauperized Veterans: Society's Handiwork, 169 
Those Who Make a Career of Being Veterans, 170 
"The Lost Generation": Professional Veterans, 171 
The Majority of Veterans Readjust in Time, 173 


They Feel at Home Only with Other Veterans, 177 
Veterans Are Immigrants in Their Native Land, 180 



Veterans Believe in Action Not in Talk, 184 
They Can Become Politically Dangerous, 186 
Demagogues Will Try to Make Them into Storm troops, 188 

PART THREE Our Past Attempts and 
Failures to Help the Veteran 


Why Veterans Want Their Own Organizations, 193 
Some Earlier Veterans' Organizations, 196 
The Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.), 197 
Driving a "Six-Mule Team Through the Treasury," 199 


The Varied Program of the Legion, 206 

The Legion and Academic Freedom, 210 

The Legion's Military Preparedness Program, 211 

What Veterans' Organization Contribute to Society, 213 


Pensions and Other Relief Before World War I, 216 
Pensions and Other Relief for World War I Veterans, 220 
The Ethics of Pensioning Ex-Soldiers, 222 
What Veterans on Relief Have Received, 226 
Veterans' Preferences and Other Benefits, 231 



The Scandals of 1923, 235 

The Program of Vocational Rehabilitation, 238 

The "Bonus Expeditionary Force" of 1932, 240 


Not To Plan Now, Is to Plan Disaster, 247 
Our Army: Men Who Did Not Believe in War, 249 

PART FOUR Helping the Veteran to 

Adjust to Peacetime Living 


How Old Are Our Veterans? Age Groups, 253 
Do They Want to Go Back to School? 255 
Are They Equipped to Earn Their Living? 256 
Planning for Differences among Veterans, 257 


Must Be Administered under a Flag of Truce, 260 
Veterans: A Key in Post-War Planning, 261 
They Must Share in Planning for Themselves, 262 
Assimilation through Veterans' Organizations, 263 
Scientific Screening for Disabilities, 266 
Pauperization and Unlovely Traits of Veterans, 267 



Techniques of Organizing Local Communities, 271 
A Basic Minimum Program for the Community, 273 
"" An Example: New York's Veterans' Service Center, 274 


First Step: Nation-wide Job Survey, 279 
A List of Economic Aids for Veterans, 281 


Are Veterans Strangers in Their Own Homes? 284 
Are War Marriages Actually Worth Saving? 286 
A Wide Variety of Other Personal Problems, 287 
The Disabled at Home: Stoicism or Realism? 289 


The Great Potentialities of Veteran Education, 293 
Special Methods for Teaching Student-Veterans, 295 


Essentials of a Veterans' Program, 298 

The Cost of Saving the Men Who Fought for Us, 301 



INDEX, 309 

Prologue and Introduction 

The Soldier's 
Ancient Wrong 

THE WISEST man the world has ever known was born as a result 
of the dirtiest double-cross in history. The victim of this be- 
trayal was, of course, a soldier. 

"And it came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when 
kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with 
him and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and 
besieged Rabbah. But David tarried still at Jerusaalem. 

"And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off 
his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king's house; and from the 
roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very 
beautiful to look upon. 

"And David sent and enquired after the woman. And one said, 
Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the 

"And David sent messengers, and took her; and she came in unto 
him, and he lay with her; for she was purified of her uncleanness; 
and she returned unto her house. 

"And the woman conceived, and sent and told David, and said, 
I am with child. 

"And David sent to Joab, saying, Send me Uriah the Hittite. And 
Joab sent Uriah to David. 

"And when Uriah was come unto him, David demanded of him 
how Joab did, and how the people did, and how the war prospered. 

"And David said to Uriah, Go down to thy house, and wash thy 
feet. And Uriah departed out of the king's house, and there followed 
him a mess of meat from the king. 

"But Uriah slept at the door of the king's house with all the 
servants of his lord, and went not down to his house. 

"And when they had told David, saying, Uriah went not down 



unto his house, David said unto Uriah, Camest thou not from thy 
journey? why then didst thou not go down unto thine house? 

"And Uriah said unto David, The ark, and Israel, and Judah, 
abide in tents; and my lord Joab, and the servants of my lord, are 
encamped in the open fields; shall I then go into mine house, to 
eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? as thou livest, and as 
thy soul livest, I will not do this thing. 

"And David said to Uriah, Tarry here today also, and tomorrow 
I will let thee depart. So Uriah abode in Jerusalem that day, and the 

"And when David had called him, he did eat and drink before 
him; and he made him drunk; and at even he went out to lie on his 
bed with the servants of his lord, but went not down to his house. 

"And it came to pass in the morning, that David wrote a letter to 
Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah. 

"And he wrote in the letter saying, Set ye Uriah in the fore front 
of the hottest battle, and retire ye from him, that he may be smitten, 
and die. 

"And it came to pass, when Joab observed the city, that he assigned 
Uriah unto a place where he knew that valiant men were. 

"And the men of the city went out, and fought with Joab; and 
there fell some of the people of the servants of David; and Uriah 
the Hittite died also. 

"Then Joab sent and told David all the things concerning the 

"And charged the messenger, saying, When thou has made an end 
of telling the matters of the war unto the king, 

"And if so be the king's wrath arise, and he say unto thee, Where- 
fore approached ye so nigh unto the city when ye did fight: knew 
ye not that they would shoot from the wall? 

"Who smote Abimelech the son of Jerubbesheth? did not a woman 
cast a piece of millstone upon him from the wall, that he died in 
Thebez? why went ye nigh the wall? then say thou, Thy servant 
Uriah the Hittite is dead also. . . . 

"And the messenger said unto David, Surely the men prevailed 
against us, and came out unto us into the field, and we were upon 
them even unto the entering of the gate. 

"And the shooters shot from off the wall upon thy servants; and 
some of the king's servants be dead, and thy servant Uriah the Hittite 
is dead also. 


"Then David said unto the messenger, Thus shalt thou say unto 
Joab, Let not this thing displease thee, for the sword devoureth one 
as well as another; make thy battle more strong against the city, and 
overthrow it; and encourage thou him. 

"And when the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was 
dead, she mourned for her husband. 

"And when the mourning was past, David sent and fetched her to 
his house, and she became his wife, and bare him a son. But the thing 
that David had done displeased the Lord." 

So died Uriah, the good soldier, because he would not taste pleas- 
ure while his comrades were in the field. While the ark and the 
soldiers of Israel were encamped in the fields, he would not lie with 
his wife. Good soldier, true comrade, front-line fighter, he died by 

David was a good king. He has come down to us as the great man 
who slew his tens of thousands and dealt fairly with everybody except 
a few poor fools who fought for him and for the glory of Israel. And 
some of the king's servants are dead, and thy servant Uriah the 
Hittite is dead also. David was a wise king. When he wronged a 
man, he had that man killed. David had no veteran problem. But 
if Uriah the Hittite had survived, David would have had a veteran 

Uriah did not come home, but many millions of veterans have 
come home to confront those who have betrayed them in matters 
great and small. Veterans have written many a bloody page of history, 
and those pages have stood forever as a record of their days of anger. 
Many times has their blind, understandable fury changed the course 
of human events. 

Veterans Our Gravest 
Social Problem 

WHERE shall we begin the story of the veterans? Apparently 
the memory of man runneth not to the time when veterans 
were not. Should we begin with Odysseus, spoiler of cities, 
who returned from Troy to make a counterrevolution in Ithaca? 
With Aeneas, also a veteran, and a very dynamic agent in history? 
Mythical characters, those, but as in the historical record fiction 
slowly and ever imperfectly gives way to fact, we find the Cartha- 
ginian veterans upon a blood-red page, and a few generations later 
is Catiline, who led Sulla's pot-bellied veterans to honorable death in 
his most dishonorable cause. 

Everywhere in history are veterans, in every age and every nation. 
There is enough in American experience with veterans to afford a 
point of departure; and a "bearable" point at that, since the United 
States has been fortunate in its veterans fortunate indeed when 
compared with other countries. On occasion we have mistreated 
our returning soldiers, but they have usually been docile, and when 
they were not they were content with small pensions. However, our 
country has seen some disorders in which embattled veterans have 
stood up to the authorities, demanding their rights. There has been 
mutiny on the rolling hills of New Jersey. Rebellious veterans have 
marched down the turnpike that leads through the fat lands of 
Pennsylvania from Lancaster to Philadelphia. Congress has been 
put in fear and forced to change its headquarters to another city. 
The South has witnessed a secret and terrible counterrevolution. 
Our armies have had their deserters and stragglers who have turned 
into bushwackers and guerrillas. 

Veterans and the War of Independence 

At the end of our Revolutionary War, the morale of the American 



army sharply tumbled. Though dissatisfied with military life, the 
troops did not want to be demobilized without first receiving their 
pay. While in this uncertain and rebellious state, the troops at New- 
burgh (N. Y.) grew ominously restless. An anonymous letter was 
circulated in the camp, an excellent bit of writing in the "Hello 
Sucker" vein characteristic of soldiers at the end of a war. An excerpt: 

"... If this then be your treatment while the swords you wear 
are necessary for the defence of America, what have you to expect 
from peace, when your voice shall sink and your strength dis- 
sipate by division; when those very swords, the instruments and 
companions of your glory, shall be taken from your sides, and 
no remaining mark of military distinction left but your wants, 
infirmities and scars? Can you then consent to be the only suffer- 
ers by this Revolution, and, retiring from the field, grow old in 
poverty, wretchedness, and contempt? Can you consent to wade 
through the vile mire of dependency, and owe the miserable 
remnant of that life of charity, which has hitherto been spent in 
honor? If you can, go, and carry with you the jest of tories and 
the scorn of whigs. Go, starve, and be forgotten! But if your 
spirits should revolt at this; if you have sense enough to discover, 
and spirit sufficient to oppose tyranny, under whatever garb it 
may assume, whether it be the plain coat of republicanism, or 
the splendid robe of royalty; if you have yet learned to discrim- 
inate between a people and a cause, between men and princi- 
ples; awake, attend to your situation, and redress yourselves! 
If the present moment be lost, every future effort is in vain; 
and your threats then will be as empty as your entreaties now." 

Go and carry with you the jests of the tories and the scorn of whigs. 
Go, starve, and be forgotten! It is easy to imagine the effect of such 
an incendiary piece of writing upon a group of rebellious, discon- 
tented veterans who were in want of everything and were convinced 
that their country intended to defraud them. It took the personality 
of Washington to soothe the soldiers into a less rebellious mood. 

The news that the war had ended was in fact received sullenly by 
the soldiers. Washington and his officers even considered the 
possibility of suppressing the news temporarily, but their better 
judgment prevailed. 1 Like Cromwell's New Model Army, like the 
mercenaries of Carthage, Washington's soldiers wanted their money. 

!For this fact and the material that immediately follows, see Varnum Lansing 
Collins, The Continental Congress at Princeton. The Princeton Library, 1908. 


Insignificant though it was, their pay was all they had and without it 
they were reduced to beggary. When an attempt was made to fur- 
lough them without settling their accounts, it met with resistance. 

The most serious outbreaks took place in Pennsylvania. Though 
the soldiers stationed at Philadelphia were mostly recruits who had 
served only five months and had done nothing more arduous than 
guard a few prisoners, among them were veterans of the famous 
mutiny of 1781. Meanwhile, eighty soldiers set out from Lancaster to 
demand justice from Congress. With the disaffected Philadelphia 
garrison they constituted a body of 250 to 300 fully armed troops. 
They menaced the Continental Congress, but laid hands on no one 
except President Boudinot, and that assault was very slight. Obliging 
civilians contributed to the excitement by furnishing the soldiers 
with liquor. Authorities were afraid to call out the militia they 
would not dare unless the troops became violent. 

Congress removed to Princeton and the mutiny died. A little later 
the soldiers were discharged, short-changed, and disgracefully 
swindled. They went, the jest of tories and the scorn of whigs. 
They went, starved, and were forgotten. In the fraud of which they 
were the victims were the germs of many evils to come in the next 
hundred and fifty years; pensions, tariffs ostensibly to pay the pen- 
sions, a Civil War partly because of the tariffs, then more pensions 
to pay more veterans and more tariffs, and an endless series of raids 
on the treasury. In the settlements following the Revolution was 
initiated America's traditional policy of paying on account of vet- 
erans' claims too much, too late, in the wrong way, and to the wrong 

The revolution was as much a civil as an international war, and it 
died hard. In the rhythmic interplay of revolution and counter- 
revolutions that swept across the states after the war, discontented 
officers and soldiers played a great part. The officers had their 
organization (the Cincinnati), and there were men among them 
who would have been pleased to see monarchical institutions reestab- 
lished. There were radical risings, such as Shay's Rebellion, which 
was led by a former soldier of the Revolution, and was so fortunate in 
its outcome for the reactionaries that well-justified suspicions have 
arisen concerning its origins. After the Constitution had been 
adopted, the speculators who held the greater part of the veterans' 
dismissal-pay certificates reaped a rich reward when these were paid 
in full. 


In time the political activities of Revolutionary veterans were 
directed into the more conventional channels of attempting to care 
for the disabled and to secure pensions for the men who needed 
them. But the mistreatment suffered by the soldiers at the end of 
the war furnished a moral justification for exactions on their part 
in later years. The belated and not very well considered attempts 
to redress these injustices supplied our precedents for handling 
the veterans of our other wars. 

Confederate Veterans and the Ku Klux Klan 

After the Civil War the soldiers of the Union furnished the 
dynamic element in the politics of the era of good stealing. Republi- 
canism, Protectionism, and Pensionism became the objects of their 
emotional and political attachments. The Republican Party and the 
Grand Army of the Republic were their organizations that worked 
hand in hand for pensions and tariffs. The energies of the returned 
soldiers were thus allowed to come to expression without greatly 
disturbing the status quo in the North. 

In the South, however, the veterans' bitterness had cruel work to 
do. The North had imposed a revolution upon the South. The 
veterans made a counterrevolution. After the war, the bottom rail 
was on top in southern society; the former rulers disfranchised; 
Negroes and carpetbaggers in the Federal and State offices. In the 
movements that restored the white race to its traditional supremacy, 
veterans apparently took the leading part. Typical of the agencies 
used for this counterrevolution was the Ku Klux Klan. When first 
organized in 1865 by six young veterans in Pulaski, Tennessee, the 
Klan was probably intended to be only a harmless social club. 2 The 
eery costume was first adopted for reasons of wholesome fun; its 
utility for terrorizing freedmen was discovered later. The Klan's 
announced purposes sounded innocent enough: "To protect the 
weak, innocent and defenseless from the indignities, wrongs, and 
outrage of the lawless, the violent, and the brutal; to relieve the 
injured and oppressed, especially the widows and orphans of ex- 
Confederate soldiers." When the Reconstruction Acts of 1867 were 

2 Claude G. Bowers, The Tragic Era: The Revolution after Lincoln. Houghton 
Mifflin, 1929, pp. 306 ff. 


passed, and the vise was thus tightened on the South, the Klan be- 
came committed to the counterrevolution. 

The now politically active Klan found its predestined leader in 
Nathan Bedford Forrest, 3 whom Sandburg calls "a born killer made, 
for war." He was the perfect leader of the movement to restore 
white supremacy. A log-cabin boy, a former slave trader, an able 
business man, a killer a hundred times over but a godly man who 
prayed before he went into battle, he became a general known for 
his sudden and terrible forays and a soldier who knew how to make 
war support war. He had no moral scruples against slavery: "If we 
aint fightin' fer slavery then I'd like to know what we are fightin' 
fer." He was in charge when Negro troops were massacred at Fort 
Pillow, this first Grand Wizard who led the Klan in 1867. 

The entire South was the "Invisible Empire" and the Grand 
Wizard the supreme head, and under him were lesser officers: Grand 
Dragons, Grand Titans, and Grand Cyclops. The Klansmen called 
each local chapter a "den" and themselves "regulators." Force and 
violence were part of their methods though they were rarely if ever 
convicted of crime but they preferred to rule by terror where they 
could. While their ritual and mumbo-jumbo helped greatly in sub- 
duing the ignorant and superstitious Negroes, without the driving 
force and organizing ability of such men as Forrest, the counter- 
revolution would certainly have failed. 

After the formal dissolution of the Klan, other organizations took 
up the work of resistance to Reconstruction, but the methods, and in 
large part the leadership, remained the same; the men of the South 
continued to be led by former officers acting in their capacity as 
veterans. In South Carolina a red-shirted party swept Wade Hampton 
into power in one of the last acts of the drama of Reconstruction. In 
the end the old order was restored and the revolution was in vain; the 
Bourbons returned to power, having learned nothing and forgotten 

German Veterans of World War I and Fascism 

It remained for the First World War to release the dynamic force 

3 Eric William Sheppard, Bedford Forrest, The Confederacy's Greatest Cavalryman. 
London, Witherly, 1930. See also Carl Sandburg, Abraham Lincoln, The War Years. 
Harcourt Brace, 1939, Vol. Ill, pp. 36-44. 


of veterans upon a global scale. Of the more than 63,000,000 men 
under arms, about 55,000,000 veterans came home. 4 Their impact 
upon Western civilization has been incalculably great. Russia was 
the first major power to feel it. As early as 1915, army deserters had 
become extremely troublesome; Warsaw restaurant keepers, for 
example, had orders to serve only soldiers whose papers were in 
order. 5 When the Revolution came, these deserters and mutinous 
soldiers played a mighty part. It is no mere coincidence, therefore, 
that the Soviet government has probably made more intelligent use 
of its veterans than any other great power. 

Since 1918, veterans have furnished the dynamic of politics in 
nearly every major nation, and the world has reaped many a bitter 
fruit of veteran discontent. The effects in the United States, though 
disquieting to some, have been relatively benign. France was much 
more unfortunate; its veterans' societies carried on vicious wars 
against the liberties of the French people. But it was in Germany 
and in Italy that the veterans' anger became the principal organiz- 
ing force in society. 6 

Like the men of our own South, the Germans of 1918 lost the 
war but kept their cause. For many Germans World War I never 
came to an end. In 1918 many of Germany's conscripted soldiers, 
and a section of the German people rose against the German army 
and overthrew it, but many persons primarily loyal to the German 
army never accepted defeat and continued an unceasing, if secret, 
war. Of 200,000 officers, 190,000 could find no military employment. 
They had to doff their uniforms but the army lived on in their hearts. 
They did what they could for the cause that they never regarded as 
lost. Thieves, perjurers, cut-throats, and midnight assassins, they 
killed and lied and stopped at nothing. 

The methods of the counterrevolution were simple. Assassination. 
Conspiracy. Concealment of weapons. Organization of secret armies 
under one harmless name after another. Perversion of justice. Death 
to the inner enemies. Bloody revenge, utter implacable ruthlessness. 
The Civil War first, then the international war. But first Civil War 

4 Quincy Wright, A Study of War. U. of Chicago Press, 1942; Vol. I, Table 56, 
p. 664. 

5 Frank P. Chambers, The War Behind the War, 1914-15. Harcourt Brace, 1939, 
p. 119. 

6 An illuminating analysis of the counterrevolution in Germany has been furnished 
by Konrad Heiden. Der Fuehrer, Hitler's Rise to Power. Houghton Mifflin, 1944. 


to weld the German people into a perfect instrument of warfare. 

A young officer, Ernst Rohm, organized one secret army after 
another, changing titles frequently but keeping the nuclei intact. 
He sent out assassins and gave orders to corrupt judges who accord- 
ingly adjudged the conspirators not guilty. A fatherly officer beloved 
by his men and a homosexual murderer, Rohm never got the army 
out of his heart. 

Not the great officers but the lesser ones carried on this struggle. 
Many of the captains and lieutenants had never learned any trade 
other than war, and war had been good to them. Having graduated 
from school early, they quickly became officers without going through 
the long grind of preparation and waiting for promotion. Their work 
was dangerous but exciting and the pay was good, especially for 
such young men. As officers, they were men of mark. When peace 
broke out, these men found no career, no bread. 

These former officers struggled to win the proletariat. An obscure 
corporal showed them the way. Before the war, he had been an un- 
successful painter who did little pictures that were pasted on furni- 
ture. For years he was an inhabitant of a shelter for homeless men, 
literally, in American slang, a bum. Then he was a masochistic soldier 
who gloried in slaughter and hardship but never wanted a woman; 
a queer psychopathic soldier who never complained. After the war, 
he became a spy for the counterrevolution. With his loud harsh 
voice, he said things over and over until the veriest oaf could under- 
stand him. Before the war a bum, after the war a stool-pigeon and 
a finger-man, he was the lowest of the low. But he was shrewd, cun- 
ning, and intelligent, and he knew the way to the hearts of the 
German people. 

With the help of some of the landowners and industrialists, with 
the assistance of the deluded proletariat, these veterans made the 
German counterrevolution. The civil war first, and after that the 
international war. 

After the international war, what wars will come and who will 
make them? When this World War I group of veterans marches 
off the stage of history, who marches on to take their places? 

We have chosen only a few of the thousands of stories of veterans 
which lie scattered over the pages of history. These few examples 
suffice, perhaps, to illustrate our central fact: The veteran is, and 
always has been a problematic element in society, an unfortunate, 


misused, and pitiable man, and, like others whom society has mis- 
treated, a threat to existing institutions. 

Veterans: America's Gravest Social Problem 

No one supposes, of course, that all veterans are alike. As an army 
is an expression of the national culture, so is the man who has served 
in that army. American veterans could never behave like German 
veterans; they could never become Storm Troopers, never be the 
hired bullies, thugs, and assassins of a stupid counterrevolution. 
They could never make war against their fellow-citizens. Or could 
they? Armies, while they vary somewhat with the national back- 
ground, are strangely alike, and there are striking similarities in the 
behavior of army-made men, of veterans, in all times and places. 
Perhaps if the American veterans of World War II return to a 
society similar to that of the Germany of 1918-1932 they too will 
raise up a Rohm and a Hitler. 

The veteran who comes home is a social problem, and certainly 
the major social problem of the next few years. Not always but all 
too often he is a problem because of his misfortunes and his needs, 
because he is maimed, crippled, demented, destitute, cold and 
enhungered; these things he is, these wants he has, from no fault 
and no desire of his own but solely because of what we have done 
to him; only because we have used him as an instrument of national 
policy; because we have used him up, sacrificed him, wasted him. 
No man could have a better moral claim to the consideration of 
his fellows. And no man could have a better right to bitterness. 

But the veteran, so justly entitled to move us to pity and to shame, 
can also put us in fear. Destitute he may be, friendless, without 
political guile, unskilled in the arts of peace; but weak he is not. 
That makes him a different kind of problem. That hand that does 
know how to earn its owner's bread knows how to take your bread, 
knows very well how to kill you, if need be, in the process. That eye 
that has looked at death will not quail at the sight of a policeman. 
Unless and until he can be renaturalized into his native land, the 
veteran is a threat to society. 

We now face the return to civilian society of that one-tenth of the 
population which the other nine-tenths have used to fight a war. 
These men will return, if they are like other soldiers, in no easy 


and comfortable frame of mind; it will be difficult to find the equable, 
complacent, obedient boys we sent away in the bitter, anger-hard 
veterans who return. But we have made them what they are, we have 
used them for war and war has put its curse on them; they are our 
boys whom we delivered to Moloch; our finest and bravest, a whole 
generation of our men-children. We must somehow find the way 
to win them back. 

The condition that faces us is nothing new to the United States. 
From colonial times to the present, our natioa has always had a 
group of veterans, we have always had a veteran problem, and 
we have never known how to handle that problem. We have been 
in twelve major wars since the Revolution, according to Quincy 
Wright's count and have engaged in over 170 military campaigns; 
for such a peace-loving people, we do seem to have a lot of trouble! 7 
We have never made adequate provision for the veterans of those 
wars. The history of our policy toward the returned soldier is in 
fact so discouraging that one may well wonder whether we shall 
ever manage to combine intelligence and humanity in the treat- 
ment of the men we send to fight for us. 

Our kind of democratic society is probably worse fitted than any 
other for handling veterans. An autocracy, caring nothing for its 
human materials, can use up a man and throw him away. A 
socialistic society that takes from each according to his abilities 
and gives to each according to his needs can use up a man and 
then care for him the rest of his life. But a democracy, a competi- 
tive democracy like ours, that cares about human values but expects 
every man to look out for himself, uses up a man and returns 
him to the competitive process, then belatedly recognizes the injus- 
tice of this procedure and makes lavish gestures of atonement in 
his direction which somehow never quite suffice to gather up 
the spilled milk or put Humpty-Dumpty together again. 

Our traditional policy has been to neglect our veterans for a 
period of years after the end of a major war. During this period 
of neglect, uninjured veterans take up the broken threads of their 
lives as best they can, struggle against discouragements to compete 
successfully, force their way into economic, social, and political 
life, while the injured, the maimed, gassed, tubercular, and men- 

7 Wright, op. '/., Vol. I, pp. 636 fi. Wright counts as wars any hostilities which 
were legally defined as wars or which involved more than 50,000 troops. 


tally unbalanced contrive to live by such little jobs as their condi- 
tions permit, learn to beg on the streets, and become paupers, steal 
and are sent to prison, or else just starve and are forgotten together 
with their widows and dependents. Then, after some years, the 
veterans suddenly emerge as a powerful political force. Still burn- 
ing with resentment over their own wrongs, they see to it that ample 
provision is made for unfortunate veterans. But it is too late then to 
do justice, too late to help many who have died or been ruined 
beyond hope of reclamation. 

We waste the golden years in which rehabilitation is possible, 
then spend billions in fruitless penance for wrongs that can never 
be undone. We allow the tuberculous veteran, ruined by war, to 
cough out his lungs in the county poor-house; then, years later, 
perhaps more than a hundred years later, we pay a pension to a 
woman who was not born until years after the end of the war, a 
woman who married a senescent veteran in anticipation of the 
benefits that would accrue to his widow. Our policy is to pay on 
account of veterans too much, too late, to the wrong person, in the 
wrong manner. We have spent many billions on veterans' claims, 
and most of it has been wasted. We have never spent enough at the 
right time, or spent it on the right persons. 

What the times demand is a new art, the art of rehabilitation. 
We know how to turn the civilian into a soldier. History has taught 
us that all too well; tradition has given us marvellously adequate 
techniques. But we do not know how to turn the soldier into a 
civilian again. This is the art that we must perfect if we are ever 
to solve the problem of the veteran in our society. Such an art 
should begin with an attempt to understand the veteran and the 
veteran problem; particularly, it must begin with an understanding 
of the veteran's attitudes. We must learn what it is to have a rendez- 
vous with death and to live through it, to be, for a time, expendable, 
and then to be expendable no more. What happens when the 
expendable one returns? What attitudes does he bring with him? 
That is the principal task of this book: to present and to illuminate 
the veteran problem, and to explain the veteran's mental and 
emotional nature and the problems in the way of his readjustment 
in society. 

In developing our theme, we shall analyze, in Part I, what being 
in the army does to a man, and how military experience molds him 


in such a way as to make him no longer fit for civilian life. An 
Entr'Acte then tells how society changes while the soldier is away, 
thus aggravating his problem of adjustment. Part II describes and 
attempts to explain the curious, corrosive bitterness that floods the 
veteran mind, and points out some of the difficulties that the veteran 
encounters in his attempts to adjust to peacetime living. Another 
Entr'Acte discusses the veteran as a political threat. Part III de- 
scribes and evaluates past attempts to help veterans to adjust to 
civilian life. A third Entr'Acte tells of the present challenge of our 
returning veterans, while Part IV makes some suggestions concern- 
ing the manner in which we can and should meet the problem of 
the returning expendables of World War II. 

The Civilian Is Made into 
a Professional Soldier 

The Army Machine 
Annihilates the 
Soldier's Individual 

A man who has once been a soldier can never be quite a civilian 
again. A military experience, especially in time of war, leaves a 
mark upon a man. If we are to understand the veteran, we must 
learn what he experiences as a soldier. 

While military organizations differ in important respects, they 
have many characteristics in common. For the sake of simplicity, 
we may concentrate on the common elements and ignore the differ- 
ences. By army, we shall mean any military organization; by soldier, 
every man under arms. 1 

And when we speak of the soldier, we mean the typical soldier, 
not any particular soldier or every soldier. Our generalizations 
apply to most soldiers in some degree and describe the reactions of 
many soldiers quite closely, but no one supposes that they apply to 
every man Jack of every army in the world. In all our thinking 
about man, we are forced to construct types. The economist knows 
that the economic man is not every man, and in fact is not any man, 
but he is what all men tend to be under certain circumstances. Not 
even the law of gravity can describe with accuracy anything that 
actually happens, although it describes very well what always tends 
to happen. Just so, the soldier of whom we shall speak is not 
any soldier in particular, but he is what all soldiers tend to be. 

When we take a man and make him a soldier, we subject him 
to the conditioning processes of a peculiar environment, removing 

l For the female veteran, some of our generalizations may not hold, although 
one of the most valuable autobiographies of World War I was written by one 
Vera Brittain's Testament of Youth, an excellent document upon which we shall 
draw freely. While we disagree with Miss Brittain's recent stand on bombing, 
her personal history in World War I is valuable because of its presentation 
of the woman's eye view of war. 



him from his accustomed world that has made him what he is. 
A human being is the creature and the creation of the society 
in which he lives; he has whatever habits his society permits and 
encourages him to have, no more and no less, and those habits are 
the man. Change the society and you change the man. The civilian- 
turned-soldier derives his distinguishing characteristics from the 
social environment of the army. 

Perhaps more definitely than any other human social arrange- 
ment, the army is a social machine. It is a machine designed for 
violent action, which enables a million men to act with a single 
will; a machine so designed that it will not disintegrate under the 
impact of crisis or sudden disaster. It is a machine, and the men in 
it are the parts. In order to become a soldier, a man must shed some 
of his personal characteristics, and the army must ignore the rest. 
The parts of the machine must be interchangeable and standard- 
ized. They must be expendable, that is, if some men must die for the 
good of the whole, the leader must be free to give the order that 
sends them to their death. 

The Army's Will Is the Only Will That Counts 

The aim of an army is to impose its will upon the enemy. Before 
an army can succeed in this purpose, its leaders must first impose 
their will upon the men in their organization. They must mold the 
common soldiers and the officers into perfect instruments for 
expressing the will of the leader. 

The essence of military action is cooperation according to design 
imposed from above. In order to achieve that cooperation, the 
army must partly annihilate and partly ignore the soldier's private 
will. And it must organize, plan, and execute an incredible amount 
of hard work in order that a few soldiers may fight for a short time. 

The nation gives its young men over to the army by process of 
law, but they must give themselves too. In human affairs, there is 
no absolute compulsion, none that is not associated with some 
degree of consent. The recruit must submit himself to the army; 
he must take an oath. From then on he is held in the iron grip of 
military discipline. Military men understand this procedure. Accord- 
ing to the European tradition, men must be got into the army by 
whatever means necessary, and then discipline will transform 


them into soldiers. There is an old saw that the army cannot make 
a man fight, but it can take him where the fighting is and he can 
use his own judgment. 

Our present army is a drafted army, which means that its mem- 
bers gave a minimum of consent to military service. It may be 
that the draftee was anxious to evade service and tried hard to 
get out of it. Nevertheless, once he has joined the army once he 
has, under some compulsion, consented to take the oath he sud- 
denly finds himself full of patriotism. Often he makes a virtue of 
necessity, and speaks and no doubt thinks as though his military 
career were a matter of his own free will. Nearly always, he comes to 
be contemptuous of civilians and 4Fs and all who are not doing their 
bit in uniform, having by now forgotten his own confused feelings 
concerning military service. When the soldier becomes a veteran, 
he continues, as a matter of pride, to think of his military 
contribution as the result of an unforced choice. 2 

When the soldier has given himself over to the army, he discovers 
a world in which his private personality and his private will no 
longer count. No one says please to him any more, because to use 
that word as we do in civilian life would imply that he has it in 
his power to withhold the action he is ordered to undertake. He is 
part of a great machine in which the private has very little option 
and from which the self-will of the soldier must be systematically 
eradicated. 3 

He has few belongings, and those only of the simplest sort, prac- 
tically all government issue. He has no privacy; all the actions 
that were once private must now be performed publicly. He eats, 
sleeps, bathes, upon order and very often by the numbers, all in 

2 All this is said to explain the psychology of the soldier and the veteran and 
not to detract from his sacrifice. His sacrifice is just as great, and his claim upon 
society equally large, whether he chose freely or was in part coerced to join the 
colors. In fact, the draftee has in some ways a better claim upon our considera- 
tion than the man who voluntarily chose the military life. 

3 As the soldier rises in the military hierarchy, he receives a wider choice of 
means to employ in attaining the end desired by the army. A source of strength 
in the present German army is said to be the encouragement of initiative in 
under officers by allowing them a choice of means. Our own army, while insist- 
ing upon conformity as to time and place, allows its under officers some scope 
for initiative. The definition of the sphere of responsibility is a difficult point 
of policy. There must be close coordination of action, but the initiative of the 
individual must not be completely crushed. Lee's policy was to leave tactical 
decisions to his general officers in charge of operations, and while it worked 
well with such men as Jackson, it did not always succeed. Some argue that this 
policy cost Lee the Battle of Gettysburg. 


the full glare of pitiless publicity. He rarely hears his own given 
name. On Sunday morning he marches off to church with a thou- 
sand others, "whether he has a religion or not." If he offends the 
military law, his shortcomings are weighed in court with the mathe- 
matical impersonality of a Monroe Calculator. 

The military machine follows the individual remorselessly, 
crushing out every resurgence of his private will against it. He 
can never excuse himself by saying, "I forgot," because drill- 
sergeants, understanding that a man can remember anything that 
he really wants to remember, treat every such forgetting as rebellion. 
In time the soldier ceases to be Samuel Jones of Main Street, Green- 
trees, and becomes Private Jones of the Army of the United States, 
whose one job, one goal, one mission in life is war. He is a very 
specialized kind of human being, a trained and disciplined killer, 
indeed, a kind of weapon. 

In order to settle all matters of authority and to avoid clashes 
of personality, the army has fashioned a minutely graded hierarchy 
in which everyone has a special place of his own. Orders come down 
from the top, all the way down, and they can never go up. Every- 
body is under orders; high and low alike are subordinated to the 
task at hand. The aim of military organization is to arrange things 
in such a manner that there can never be any doubt as to who has 
the right to order whom to do what. An attempt is also made to 
fix responsibility beyond argument. Succession to authority follows 
rigidly established lines. 

Variations in uniform indicate exactly the place of each indi- 
vidual in the hierarchy. The corporal's authority is published by 
the stripes on his sleeve and extends to a certain group of men. The 
lieutenant's authority and responsibility extend much further. The 
relationships of the various levels of the hierarchy are embedded in 
such ceremonies as the salute, the use of the third person and of 
the word, "sir." These rituals are carefully depersonalized; one 
is taught to salute the uniform and not the man. Sometimes the 
soldier salutes the man as well as the uniform which is all right- 
but he must never fail to accord the proper respects to the uniform 
because of his opinion of the man in it. When a William Saroyan 
salutes a Red Cross worker "because of the dignified expression on 
her face," a military tradition has been perverted. Good leadership, 
of course, in the army as anywhere else, can not depend too much 


upon such externals. Nevertheless it is almost true that the army 
ceremony not merely demarcates the relationship between leaders 
and led but in fact is the relationship. 

Regimentation Makes the Recruit a Soldier 

Along with this apparently superficial and ceremonial character 
of life goes great emphasis upon appearance. The soldier must 
care for his uniform; he must shine buttons endlessly; he must keep 
his shoes immaculate and his leggings straight. Strange as it may 
seem to the civilian this emphasis on appearance is a means of 
welding men into a harmonious well-disciplined whole. "Spit and 
polish" is a synonym for a certain kind of discipline which is more 
apt to flourish, naturally, in time of peace than in time of war, and 
is more appropriate in training than in combat. The same kind 
of care is lavished upon all parts of the soldier's equipment as well 
as his living quarters. At first these things come hard to the recruit, 
but after a while he learns the tricks of the trade to let his shoes 
dry and then brush them, how to fold things and put them away, 
how to clean a rifle without completely disassembling it. Perhaps 
he comes to realize that there is no such thing as a regulation uni- 
form, but only a collection of permitted deviations from a norm. 
When the recruit has been taught to conform in such matters, and 
has learned a technique of conforming, he has begun to be a soldier. 

But the demands of group living involve even further regimenta- 
tion. In an army a great many men must live together in a semi- 
communal social order. The satisfaction of the elementary needs 
of life and the laws of sanitation necessitate inflexible regulation 
of behavior. An army must spend a great deal of its energy in 
feeding and caring for itself. Even at best, it can provide only the 
simplest necessities for its members, hence the private soldier must 
simplify his needs. Furthermore, an army must be prepared to live 
in the field, and the soldier must learn how to take care of himself 
under field conditions, which means, among other things, that he 
must learn to transport himself and his equipment over long dis- 
tances on his own motive power. The physical training and psych- 
ological conditioning of the soldier reflect these necessities. 

For the primary military initiation of the civilian in uniform, the 
army allots about three months. In that period, the recruit becomes 


a soldier. He learns, in Pershing's phrase, to "shoot and to salute." 
He learns to take orders. He comes to accept discipline. His body 
hardens. He adjusts to the army culture, learns the names of things 
and the rules of the game, the techniques of getting by in the army. 
He becomes army-wise. After his first period of rebellion against 
the army, he ultimately becomes rather proud of the fact that he 
is a soldier. At the end of this training period, he is a soldier and 
knows how to take care of himself under army conditions. In many 
respects, the effects of this initial period of military training upon 
personality are distinctly favorable. 

Unhappily, it is impossible to subordinate a human being to a 
machine to such an extent without at the same time damaging and 
partially paralyzing his intelligence. The strict regimentation of 
an army, with its concomitant of army politics, often crushes initi- 
ative and in the end makes it impossible for the underling to 
think of new things. Since a man can come to command only after 
long service in subordinate positions, conservatism is inherent in 
the army. Because an army, by and large, cannot bring out the best 
in a man, fails to use the best of a man's potentialities and in fact 
sometimes destroys that best, one may argue that an army always 
tends to be inefficient just because it is an army a fault it shares 
with all bureaucracy. 

An army always prepares for the last war, runs the popular 
remark, or for the last but one. In any case, the conservatism of 
peacetime armies is proverbial. Recent decades have witnessed many 
instances in which the military wisdom of such men as Mitchell 
and De Gaulle was smothered by tradition-bound brass hats. In 
peace, the Colonel Blimps hold undisputed sway in most armies, 
but war weeds them out. In the United States, the wartime influx 
of a great number of civilian-minded officers usually gives us a 
very effective army, after these men have learned their army jobs, 
which usually takes a couple of years. 

Some Part of Every Soldier Fights the Army 

Certainly the human animal is not perfectly adaptable to military 
life. He is quickly bored by it and rebels against it. There are so 
many things that the soldier, as a human being, wants to do but 
cannot do because he is a soldier that boredom is almost universal 


in war. The soldier must spend much of his time waiting; he must 
run to get to some place quickly and then wait all day for others 
to arrive; he must wait for the zero hour and for the big attack. 
In an army of specialists, the technician must spend a great amount 
of time waiting for the chance to do the particular job for which 
he has been trained. Soldiers therefore develop a whole series of 
techniques and attitudes that help to minimize boredom and to 
pass the time. 

No matter how hard he tries to conform, no matter how well 
and cheerfully he does his duty, the soldier, with some small part 
of himself rebels against the army. This rebellion shows itself in 
the perennial grumbling that has apparently been characteristic of 
soldiers since wars began. The songs that common soldiers sing 
frequently express very adverse opinions concerning commissioned 
officers high and low, but wise officers realize the importance of 
such verbal outlets and pay no attention to the singing and hardly 
more to the grumbling unless its tone becomes ominous. Most of 
all, of course, the soldier rebels by "soldiering" on the job. (Note 
the folk-wisdom inherent in that phrase, "to soldier on a job.") 
The man who is army-wise learns how to avoid certain duties with- 
out incurring unpleasant consequences, and is perhaps the better 
soldier for it. 

Such phenomena, characteristic of almost any military establish- 
ment at times, do not necessarily indicate that morale is low. 
Morale may be defined as an adjustment of the wishes and attitudes 
of individuals to the purpose of the group. The purpose of an army 
is fighting, and so long as soldiers will fight, their morale is good. 
An army is not a seminary for young ladies, and it can afford to 
limit its demands to the business of war; in fact, it cannot afford 
to make any demands irrelevant to war like the law, it does not 
concern itself with trifles. Esprit de corps, which the military often 
confuse with morale, is not quite identical with it. It helps morale, 
but is not its primary element. The essence of morale is simply 
that adjustment in individuals, that set of attitudes which causes 
them, when the pressure is on, to do their duty. 

An army is not a school of character but a machine for fight- 
ing. When the civilian-turned-soldier has adjusted his person- 
ality to the demands of the military machine, he has thereby lost 
some part of his ability to adjust to the demands of civilian society. 


He has learned to get by in the army, to look out for himself as 
a soldier, he has learned to take orders and to act in concert with 
thousands of others, but he has not learned to get a civilian job 
and to hold it, he has not learned to rise in the morning with no 
bugle or top sergeant to remind him, he has not learned to live 
without the incessant proddings of the military machine, he has 
not learned how to treat his wife and children or what attitude to 
take toward the opinions of the neighbors. Accustomed to receiving 
and giving orders, he can no longer comprehend that vast and alien 
civilian world where everything depends upon consent, where one 
must persuade, not order or forbid. In a world where externals are 
everything, where outward conformity is the sum of one's duty and 
one's whole life is devoted to the husk of things, he has had no 
opportunity to cultivate familiarity with the still small voice of 
conscience, has had, in fact, no right to have a conscience because 
he had no right to regulate his behavior by his own inner standards. 
When the soldier returns to civilian life, he must learn once more 
to take up the burdens of personal and moral responsibility. 

The Soldier Is 
Alienated from 
the World He 
Left Behind 

ONCE in the army, the civilian-turned-soldier is shut off from 
the main currents of communication characteristic of civilian 
life. In our society, communication with others is normally 
intense and continuous. We read newspapers, magazines, books, 
advertising, letters, signs, billboards, cards, and every kind of thing 
that mankind has designed to bear a written message. We listen to 
the radio, attend plays and movies, go to church, speak or listen at 
meetings. With those about us, we chatter endlessly, even when our 
talk has no meaning except to show the momentary absence of ill 
will. Gossip and ridicule control our behavior and confine us to the 
ways of our herd. Opinion is formed in the discussions at the village 
store, on the bus or club-car, in the pool-room and saloon. Folk- 
wisdom reaches us through this communicative process; and just 
so do we get our common sense, which we call common not because 
the majority of people have it but because it is derived from the 
common life. Our very selves are derived from the welter of words 
and gestures in which we live. 

When the young man joins the army, he is almost completely 
removed from this communicative interchange. No one tells him 
the gossip about the woman next door, or the interesting details 
of the newcomers down the street. There is no garage man to repeat 
the witticism that a mechanic can't make any money pumping gas 
in explanation of a botched repair job done at a filling station. 
There are no prudent neighbors to raise their eyebrows at his 
behavior. No one speaks to him of family pride, and no one listens 
to his stories about his job. He is in a different world now, a new 

The soldier does not read much, the Armed Services Editions 



notwithstanding. Although our army is doubtless better educated 
than any previous American army, less than half of the men have 
been through high school, while another one-fourth has finished 
high school but no more. Furthermore, the soldier has little time 
for or interest in books. Trained for action, he lacks the scholar's 
Sitzfleisch; immersed in the daily routines of the soldier, he cannot 
settle down to Plato. When he does read, his goal is not ordinarily 
self-improvement, and he prefers Super-Man and other comics to 
the Five-Foot Shelf. He is a doer now, not a talker or a thinker, 
and the intellectual climate in which he lives is unfavorable to the 
growth and development of complex ideas. The so-called "intel- 
lectual" is sometimes broadened a bit in his human sympathies; 
he learns at length that truck-drivers are people, but he is in a 
position to profit only because he begins by being, as regards con- 
crete human relations, not, as he believes, the broadest, but the 
narrowest of men. 

The Army World Is the Real World to the Soldier 

The soldier becomes a part of a tightly organized social world 
so deeply engrossed in its own concerns that it has no interest in 
most of the things that concern civilians. The army is an intense 
world, compact, replete with meaning. While it is free and easy 
about many things important in civilian life, the army is pedan- 
tically precise and exacting in military details. Its problems are 
either crucial or utterly trivial, either of life or death or how to 
get a twenty-four hour pass. Its contexts and meanings are almost 
the complete antithesis of civilian society. 

The new soldier is sometimes amazed to learn how important 
the head man of some little part of the organization can be in the 
army. The head man's characteristics are subjected to minute 
scrutiny, because he is the holder of immense, and, to the soldier, 
apparently arbitrary power over the lives and destinies of his men. 
Unlike the civilian's immediate superior, the head man in the army 
has controlling power twenty-four hours a day. 

Far more than in a civilian community, rumors determine the 
public opinion of an army. They start nobody knows how and 
circulate through those unknowable channels that we call the 
grape-vine: The outfit is going overseas at once, or it is going 


back home; such and such a program or practice is being discon- 
tinued; there are going to be thirty-six hour passes for everybody; 
there is saltpetre in the food; the war is all over and the big shots 
are just holding back the news. Rumor plays such an important 
part in the army precisely because of the absence of the normal 
channels of news dissemination. When the newspapers are sup- 
pressed or the news is too heavily censored, rumor comes to occupy 
a similar position in civilian life. 

The soldier is so busy, so engrossed in his own concerns, so 
tired, so far removed from such matters, so military-minded that 
he finds it impossible to care greatly whether Lawyer Sharp or the 
Honorable Do Much gets elected to Congress back home. The issues 
cannot come alive for him; he has no stake in them, and hardly 
any attitude except that he resents them. He wants to get the war 
over; and next to that, he craves a woman and a drink, in the 
language of the last war, a steam-heated flat and a blonde. The 
political struggles back home seem trivial compared with such 
driving necessities. 

In a sense, there is not even as much war talk in the army as in 
civilian life. It is not just a joke when a man joins the army to 
get away from the war, or to get his mind off the war. The soldier 
has his war and does not need to think about it any more; he is free 
from the driving impulsion to discuss strategy (which in any case 
is no concern of his) that motivates the civilian at home. It is true 
that the soldier's single concern is war, but with this qualification: 
The civilian discusses the war, while the soldier discusses the army 
or a part of the war. The soldier trains in one particular company 
in a certain training camp; if he gets to the front he sees a small 
part of a great battle; perhaps he spends the war doing paper work 
in Iceland; whatever happens to him is his personal and particular 
war. It will be a matter of years before he learns about the rest of 
the war. 

The Army Breeds a Culture of Its Own 

The army has its own culture, and as the soldier becomes im- 
mersed in it, it becomes a part of him, and he grows away from his 
civilian personality. The army speaks a special language. Forms of 
speech are carefully prescribed and usually mirror conventional- 


ized relationships. Military language contains many cherished 
archaisms, such as the "Aye, Aye, sir," of the Navy, as well as 
the uniform and the now abandoned mode of marking time by 
bells and watches; the function of such mannerisms of speech is 
to set a service apart and to isolate the members of that service 
from the remainder of the world. Army abbreviations alone are 
almost sufficient to make military speech incomprehensible to the 
civilian. A letter from one old army sergeant to another is likely 
to be such a collection of initials as to seem like a code to the 
uninitiated, but when translated it is direct and simple speech. On 
the other hand, military language is sometimes superior to ordinary 
speech in modernity and lack of ambiguity; an example of which is 
the present twenty-four hour nomenclature of the services. Not only 
is the soldier's way of telling time different from that of the civilian, 
but the attitude toward it is different, the meaning of time being 
almost wholly a function of social habits. 

Service humor is also characteristic of the army world. It deals 
pre-eminently with service situations, expressing attitudes often 
incomprehensible to civilians. There is a frequent element of gal- 
lows humor in it. Caesar recounts some of the sour witticisms of 
his own soldiers, not too different from the military brand of today. 
But nothing can match the grim humor of the Johnny Reb who 

Now I lay me down to sleep, 

While gray-backs o'er my body creep; 

If. I should die before I wake, 

I pray the Lord their jaws to break. 1 

The army love of humorous abbreviations gave birth to the 
famous SOL of World War I, and to the more ingenious snafu 
(variations, susfu, fubar, and tarfu) of the present war. A certain 
type of army humor, particularly the recruit jokes, seems to be inter- 
mediate between service and civilian humor. Dere Mable appealed 
to both soldiers and civilians, but See Here, Private Hargrove leans 
definitely to the civilian side. American Legion publications contain 
a good deal of this intermediate kind of humor, being in themselves 
intermediate in attitude. 

l Quoted by R. D. Meadie, N. Y. Herald-Tribune Book Review, April 16, 
1944, p. 7. The reader whose cultural opportunities have been limited will be 
interested to learn that the grayback is a louse. 


Service men's songs follow along the same lines. Manufacturing 
his own folk music and embellishing old tunes with new words, 
the American soldier displays much ingenuity. The famous song 
of the 1918 A.E.F. was the "Mademoiselle from Armentieres;" 
which, should the reader not be familiar with it, describes the 
lady's characteristics and behavior with frankness and detail. The 
1943 "Dirty Gertie from Bizerte" was supposed to be another such 
ingenious creation until some doubt was cast on its authenticity. 
Soldier's songs may be, and often are, exceedingly sentimental. 
Many come direct from Tin Pan Alley. But though they are often 
difficult to interpret, they undoubtedly contain significant clues to 
the soldier state of mind. 

The Soldier Becomes Estranged from His Loved Ones 

One important phase of the soldier's isolation is his severance 
from family life. There are women in the army now, but they are 
not there as women, and the soldier is almost entirely devoid of 
the feminine influence. Nor can his parents or the elders of his 
community exert any further control over him. Relations with the 
family are kept up only through letters and very occasional visits. 
These letters are tremendously important to the soldier, greatly 
affecting his morale, but they can hardly take the place of family 

Sometimes even the most sophisticated soldier is shocked when 
he suddenly recognizes the gulf that has arisen between himself 
and his loved ones. The writer attended a dinner party in an 
eastern city, in honor of the furlough homecoming of the soldier 
of the household. The talk flowed rich and warm, between the 
soldier and the people at the table his young wife, his mother, 
his older sister, in particular. Of course everybody wanted to know 
how the young soldier "liked army life," and he was more than 
willing to talk about the subject. In fact, he talked so fully (though 
not with particular enthusiasm) that he himself grew aware of it. 
"Here I am back home," he suddenly remarked, "home where I've 
been longing to come where I had so many questions to ask and 
all I talk about is the army! I've been thinking about nothing but 
all of you, but I keep talking about the rest of the army guys." A 
week after the soldier had returned to camp, his young wife 


received a letter that said, in part: "All the time I was with you, 
I had the most curious feeling that I was waiting to go back to go 

"home" to Camp X . Now I realize why. I'm really home now, 

hard as it is to say this. But that's what happens, it seems, when 
you join the army. You don't feel that you belong anywhere else 
you can't, when you're in a uniform. The army seemed strange 
when I first got into it, but now everything else but the army seems 

The soldier's relations with his loved ones at home probably 
continue to carry a heavy emotional charge. He lives for his girl's 
letters, and she for his, but strange misunderstandings somehow 
arise. It is not, however, hostility but mutual idealization that 
chiefly hinders communication between the soldier and those he 
loves. For the duration of the war, communication between loved 
ones may well continue on an apparently high level of understand- 
ing, but it is delusive and unreal, because each person has mean- 
while built up idealized conceptions of the other. The clash, the 
proof of non-communication, comes later when the man shoulders 
again the burdens of daily living and finds himself chained by his 
previous commitments and perhaps by legal ties to one who is now 
an utter stranger. 

For these and other reasons, the former civilian who has become 
a soldier finds himself drifting almost imperceptibly away from his 
former ways of thinking and his accustomed attitudes. He is now 
enmeshed in a different communicative world, and it has made 
another man of him. No matter how he tries, he can never quite 
recapture his former self; he cannot find the road back nor yet 
go home again. In particular, he loses the art of dealing with other 
people who have wills of their own, and have a right to them. 
In his world there is no wooing, no persuading, no justifiable argu- 
ing and no winning of consent; one takes orders or gives them. The 
moment the soldier's grasp of the arts of consent becomes uncer- 
tain, he has become alienated from a great segment of the social 
world. Generals who have become politicians have often dem- 
onstrated this incapacity to win consent from those to whom they 
cannot issue orders. 

The soldier is likely to find himself unintentionally acting with 
some hostility toward civilians, behaving on the unspoken and 
perhaps unrecognized premise that civilians are not quite human 


and do not matter very much. With the greatest of good will on 
both sides, the soldier is likely to discover that there is much in 
his life and his attitudes whole systems of values that he cannot 
share with civilians. And he may fall into the habit of saying, again 
and again, "Of course a civilian would hardly understand such 

a thing, but " Or perhaps just thinking it, and not speaking 

at all of these incommunicable matters. 

The difficulties of communication between civilians and soldiers 
symbolize the gulf between their two worlds. Even the mere physi- 
cal distances that cause the mail to take a long time are an obstacle. 
But a letter is a poor thing at best, merely a set of marks on a 
piece of paper, and when values and attitudes have changed subtly, 
communication is most difficult. When a man has been in the army 
for a while, words have altered their meaning; words have a changed 
emotional context because his emotions themselves have changed, 
for the soldier must adapt even his emotional life to the army 

He No Longer Speaks the Language of Civilians 

Sometimes incidents occur that demonstrate very clearly that the 
words which mean so much to the civilian mean very little to the 
soldier. Even the greatest master of spoken language often fails to 
reach the man in uniform. The writer witnessed the utter failure 
of two great speakers of 1918, Theodore Roosevelt and Billy Sunday, 
each in his own way a master of eloquence. They extended them- 
selves and tried all their tricks but all they received was a sullen 
and unfriendly hearing from their audience of service men. 

Reporters of the current war tell us that abstract words mean 
little to the men in the front lines, and chaplains relate the same 
discovery. In a marvellously acute bit of introspective writing, 
Hemingway told this story some years ago: 

I did not say anything. I was always embarrassed by the 
words sacred, glorious, and sacrifice and the expression in vain. 
We had heard them, sometimes standing in the rain almost out 
of earshot, so that only the shouted words came through, and 
had read them, on proclamations that were slapped up by bill- 
posters over other proclamations, now for a long time, and I 
had seen nothing sacred, and the things that were glorious 


had no glory and the sacrifices were like the stockyards at 
Chicago if nothing was done with the meat except to bury it. 
There were many words that you could not stand to hear and 
finally only the names of places had dignity. Certain numbers 
were the same way and certain dates and these with the names 
of the places were all you could say and have them mean any- 
thing. Abstract words such as glory, honor, courage, or hallow 
were obscene beside the concrete names of villages, the numbers 
of roads, the names of rivers, the numbers of regiments and the 
dates. 2 
After a time the soldier loses some of the ability to put his 

feelings into words. Ernie Pyle tells a moving story that illustrates 

this point: 

In this war I have known a lot of officers who were loved and 
respected by the soldiers under them. But never have I crossed 
the trail of any man as beloved as Captain Henry T. Waskow, 
of Belton, Texas. 

Captain Waskow was a company commander in the gGth 
Division. He had been in this company since long before he 
left the States. He was very young, only in his middle twenties, 
but he carried in him a sincerity and gentleness that made 
people want to be guided by him. 

"After my own father, he comes next," a sergeant told me. 

"He always looked after us," a soldier said. "He'd go to bat 
for us every time." 

"I've never known him to do anything unkind," another one 

I was at the foot of the mule trail the night they brought 
Captain Waskow down. The moon was nearly full and you 
could see far up the trail, and even part way across the valley. 
Soldiers made shadows as they walked. 

Dead men had been coming down the mountain all evening, 
lashed onto the backs of mules. They came lying belly down 
across the wooden pack-saddle, their heads hanging down on 
the left side of the mule, their stiffened legs sticking awkwardly 
from the other side, bobbing up and down as the mule 
walked . . . 

Then a soldier came into the cowshed and said there were 
some more bodies outside. We went out into the road. Four 

2 Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms. Scribner, 1929, p. 196. 


mules stood there in the moonlight, in the road where the 
trail came down off the mountain. The soldiers who led them 
stood there wating. 

"This one is Captain Waskow," one of them said quickly. 

Two men unlashed his body from the mule and lifted it off 
and laid it in the shadow beside the stone wall. Other men took 
the other bodies off. Finally, there were five lying end to end 
in a long row. You don't cover up dead men in the combat 
zones. They just lie there in the shadows until somebody else 
comes after them. 

The uncertain mules moved off to their olive groves. The 
men in the road seemed reluctant to leave. They stood around, 
and gradually I could sense them moving, one by one, close 
to Captain Waskow's body. Not so much to look, I think, as 
to say something in finality to him and to themselves. I stood 
close by and I could hear. 

One soldier came and looked down, and he said out loud, 
"God damn it!" 

That's all he said, and then he walked away. 

Another one came, and he said, "God damn it to hell any- 
way!" He looked down for a few last moments and then turned 
and left. 

Another man came. I think he was an officer. It was hard 
to tell officers from men in the dim light, for everybody was 
grimy and dirty. The man looked down into the dead captain's 
face and then spoke directly to him, as though he were alive: 

"I'm sorry, old man." 

Then a soldier came and stood beside the officer and bent 
over, and he too spoke to his dead captain, not in a whisper 
but awfully tenderly, and he said, 

"I sure am sorry, sir." 

Then the first man squatted down, and he reached down 
and took the captain's hand, and he sat there for a full five 
minutes holding the dead hand in his own and looking intently 
into the dead face. And he never uttered a sound all the time 
he sat there. 

Finally he put the hand down. He reached up and gently 
straightened the points of the captain's shirt collar, and then he 
sort of rearranged the tattered edges of his uniform around 
the wound, and then he got up and walked away down the 
road into the moonlight, all alone. 8 

3 Ernie Pyle, "The Death of Captain Waskow." Scripps- Howard newspaper 
column, 1944, and Henry Holt, publishers. 


Most people, probably, civilians as well as soldiers, find them- 
selves inarticulate when faced by a loss that strikes them deeply. 
Nevertheless these soldiers, in civilian life, would have found some 
form of words more appropriate and more expressive of their grief 
than "God damn it!" In any event, the civilian would have tried 
to find the "right" words would have plucked the air for some- 
thing appropriate to say because a varied and abundant range of 
words is the normal response of men in civilian life. 

Spoken language is an automatic, natural expression of thoughts 
and feelings; and civilian life, being various, wide in range, and 
filled with shades of feeling, requires and consequently uses a vari- 
ous, wide-ranged, complex tongue. Not so, the military life. Because 
his world is rigidly confined and his activities dictated for him, 
the soldier has no need for a varied vocabulary. He can get along 
very well with a few words, and he tends to use these universally. That 
is why a certain four-letter word (tabooed from polite conversation 
but found wherever small boys can find room to scribble it) is used 
by American soldiers today to express practically everything and 
anything. It is the universal verb of our army, for ex-teamsters in 
uniform as well as ex-professors in uniform. 

The soldier does not need an ample vocabulary. His fellows will 
understand what he means; they will realize that "God damn it!" 
spoken in the presence of a dead beloved comrade carries a vast 
meaning. Knowing the context, the soldiers understand, but the 
civilian will not. And the civilians can not because they, as civilians, 
are strangers to the soldier's world; just as the soldier is a stranger 
to the civilian's world. When he comes back to live in society again, 
the soldier will have to learn this estranged world of peacetime 
complexity. He will have to resume communication on a civilian 
level, which will come to him quickly enough once he becomes 
renaturalized into society. 

He Learns the 
Deep Meaning of 

AMY life, by its very nature, necessarily frustrates most of the 
basic needs of the human animal. One need, however, it 
certainly gratifies, as civilian life does not: the hunger for 
solidarity with one's fellows. This sense of solidarity embraces 
many things that we express imperfectly by different forms of 
words. It is a feeling for the common life; it means that one knows 
that something is shared or held in common with others. It means 
that men do not live to themselves alone, that they are members, 
severally, of one another, that they are all one flesh. Solidarity is the 
soul, and perhaps the whole, of religion. It is an imponderable, 
and outweighs everything else. In solidarity there is a kind of 
security; men will sacrifice all for it and count the world well lost. 
Solidarity the need of it, the yearning for it is a mainspring of 
social life. It is comradeship. It is approval by one's fellows. It is 
the sure sense of belonging. It is one of the few solid rewards of 
army life. 

A man may be completely unaware of a desire for a child, but 
when the child appears and he calls it his own it becomes the joy 
of his life. A man may not be aware of his hunger to be one with 
his fellow man, but when the experience of solidarity comes, he 
gladly surrenders himself to it, his mind, his separate self, his reason, 
taste, and comfort. The sense of solidarity is most often found in a 
cause, a religion, or a community. A man can lose himself in a 
cause or a religion; that is how one loses his soul in order to find it. 
A cause, as experience has often shown, does not need to be good 
in order for men to regard it as holy. Whatever men in masses 
devote themselves to is sacred to them. Solidarity is the source 
of values and the great excuse for irrational beliefs, for hatreds, 
atrocities, and behavior that contradicts all the principles of ethics 



and morality. "I am doing as the others do and therefore I am doing 
right" is a dangerous principle, to be sure, but the one most often 
followed; it is especially dangerous when applied by a group of men 
removed from the controls of family, church, and community. Other 
situations than war and army life give some opportunity for this 
flight from free individuality into a tight-knit social unity: foot- 
ball games, political rallies, drunken parties, and lynching mobs. 

The Hunger for Solidarity Is Satisfied 

In modern life, this profound need for saying "we" is often frus- 
trated. Our self-feelings keep us apart from one another. Compe- 
tition keeps our souls separate, makes us suspicious, causes us to 
cheat ourselves by striving to out-do another. In peacetime society, 
our lives are wrapped in small bundles, like families, and we know 
little and care less of the loosely tied large bundles such as nations. 
Canyons of race and religion, chasms of class, keep us from 
mingling with the herd. This frustration of the sense of solidarity, 
this separateness and selfness, has much to do with the anxiety and 
insecurity that underly our modern neuroses. 

In war all this is changed. The nation is threatened. Its citizens 
spring to its defense in a fever of patriotic emotion. People discover 
their love for their country, lose their puny egos in devotion. Hatred 
for the enemy binds men together with strands of steel. In the 
release with full social approval of the usually tabooed emotion of 
hostility, people find one more thing in common, one more joy of 
fellowship. Barriers are down. People speak without introductions. 
Neighbors get together, act as one. Everyone shares somewhat in 
a slightly hysterical sense of well-being. Even the humblest task 
acquires new meaning from its place in the common effort; the 
taxi-driver and the garbage collector suddenly have their own 
dignity as men who do their part. In this early period, this honey- 
moon of war, the people ask for sacrifices and solidarity. Their 
leaders, if they are wise, give them blood, sweat, and tears and 
solidarity. Although this experience of solidarity usually lasts only 
a few months, it is an important ingredient of war. As the war 
proceeds, its sentimental assets are gradually expended. Some 
solidarity, however, must remain, or the war must stop. For when 
people lose the sense of solidarity, they also lose the will to fight. 


The Soldier's Loyalty Is Stronger Than Death 

The army as the instrument of the nation at war necessarily 
reflects the temper of that nation. But the army, with its masses 
of marching men, its discipline, its packed assemblages of human 
bodies, its landscapes of faces and uniforms, its songs and battles 
and death and comradeship, is far better adapted than civilian 
society to give the sense of belonging to an inclusive unity and 
of struggling for a common cause. "In war one is seldom alone." 
Barriers between persons are down in the army. Class, religion, 
social origin and even race are supposedly forgotten. Everybody 
is buddy, Jack, soldier, Joe. No soldier ever needs an introduction 
to another soldier. Food and luxuries are shared. Men risk their 
own lives to recover a wounded man, or even to pay respect to a 

Many find something mysterious and rewarding in this comrade- 
ship of men at arms. Here all suffer from a common fate and strug- 
gle for a common cause. They recognize that kind of justice at 
least which arises when all alike have given up certain rights. They 
enjoy the lack of personal responsibility, and do not mind its cost. 
They discover that at least there is security in the army. The soldier 
knows that when the boss looks at him in a certain way, that does 
not mean he is going to get fired; he does not need to worry lest 
someone speak ill of him to the owner of the business. The soldier's 
status in the world is humble but secure. He walks in ranks, not 
thinking whether to go right or left, just doing what the others 
do. To this one may come when he is "sick of revolt, of thought, 
of carrying his individuality like a banner above the turmoil." 1 In 
the army there is an end of all the old sort of competition. "Work 
together," says the drill-sergeant to the recruits. "Cooperate, boys," 
say the instructors at the OCS. "There are commissions enough for 
all of you." There will be glory enough for all who are willing to 
pay its price. There is blood and death enough to go around. 
"Many enemies, much honor." 

In particular, the front-line soldiers have their own sense of 

Look at that fellow over there. He's on leave too, straight 
from the trenches; I recognize the type. For all I know, he may 

1 John Dos Passes, Three Soldiers. Modern Library edition, p. 22. 


be from Verdun. If we met somewhere at the front I should 
mean nothing to him and he would mean nothing to me. 
But here there is a bond between us. We've been through the 
same ordeals in the ritual sense of the word. There is a free- 
masonry of front-line fighters; they form a sort of order. 2 

Hitler has often appealed to this solidarity in his speeches by refer- 
ring to himself as a "front line fighter." Forsan et haec olim memi- 
nisse iuvabit, says Virgil, perchance we shall take pleasure in 
remembering even this. Perchance we shall but we shall not 
remember it because of the dirt and hunger and death, nor because 
of the glory, only because we were together. "Looking back," says 
one writer, "one forgets the horrors and hardships, and one sees 
only the convivial side of life, happy dug-out days a strange phrase, 
except to those who, looking back to some cushy dug-out, remember 
happy half-hours, snatched, as it were from the very feet of death." 3 

Ernie Pyle, reporter of the human side of the present war, tells 
of "the ties that grow up between men who live savagely and die 
relentlessly together." "There is," he says, "a sense of fidelity to each 
other among little corps of men who have endured so long and 
whose hope in the end can be but so small." Pyle tells of Sergeant 
Buck Eversole, a battle-hardened Westerner who had been in the 
front lines for more than a year. As such non-coms sometimes do, 
he began to feel guilty about leading green men to slaughter; he 
began to think of himself as a sort of Judas sheep. On the eve of 
an attack, he was ordered back to the rest camp. He tried to get out 
of the assignment that would take him away from the battle, but he 
failed. Then he took a long time in saying good-bye, shook hands 
all around, wished his men good luck over and over again. As at 
last he walked away he said to Pyle, "I feel like a deserter." 

Uriah the Hittite said it thirty-five hundred years ago: "And 
Uriah said unto David, The ark, and Israel, and Judah, abide in 
tents; and my lord Joab, and the servants of my lord, are encamped 
in the open fields; shall I then go into mine house, to eat and to 
drink, and to lie with my wife; as thou livest, and as thy soul 
livest, I will not do this thing." 

Uriah the Hittite said it thirty-five hundred years ago and 

2 Jules Remains, Men of Good Will; Vol. VIII, Verdun. Knopf, 1940, p. 436. 
8 G. B. Man waring, // We Return: Letters of a Soldier of Kitchener's Army. Lane, 
1918, p. 161. 


Sergeant Buck Eversole said it the day before yesterday. Such is "the 
powerful fraternalism in the ghastly brotherhood of war," always 
the same, since men went first to battle. 

The Best Leadership Rests on Comradeship 

The task of leadership is always to build this inclusive unity of 
fighting men. In "Portrait of a Soldier" Colonel Edward S. Johns- 
town has told how Major Rasmussen, a gifted officer of World 
War I, took over a dispirited and disorganized battalion and made 
it into a great fighting unit. 4 A principal part of Rasmussen's task 
was to instill the sense of solidarity. He believed, and he taught 
his men that the battalion came first, and that "in war nothing 
else mattered so much as the comradeship of fighting men," that 
"somehow privations were not so onerous when you bore them as 
one of a band of brothers." He encouraged platoon spirit also, but 
subordinated these units to the larger whole. He taught his men 
pride in their appearance, their toughness, and the morale of their 
outfit. He helped them to overcome their repugnance toward 
corpses, extending the solidarity of living men to include the bodies 
of their slain comrades. He checked competition within his group, 
pitting his men against external obstacles. He defended them and 
fought for them, for he had learned that first principle of leader- 
ship that in order to get loyalty one must give it. The result was 
a magnificent fighting unit, pervaded by "the confidence born of 
unity the sense of being one no matter what betide." The battalion 
retained its spirit even after the death of the major. 

Less orthodox methods, but also based upon the principle of 
building solidarity as the basis of morale, were followed by Evans 
Carlson, leader of the famous Raiders. 5 His gung ho system was 
really an institutionalization of solidarity, and it rested upon the 
mores of comradeship. In the military world, Carlson's destruction 
of the barriers between officers and men was audacious, something 
that could be done only under exceptional circumstances by a leader 
of great ability. We have had a few other such experiments, prob- 
ably a little less daring, in the history of our armies. Roosevelt's 

4 Colonel Edward S. Johnstown, "Portrait of a Soldier," in Americans vs. Ger- 
mans. Penguin Book and The Infantry Journal, 1942, pp. 11-36. 

5 Lucien Hubbard, "Colonel Carlson and His Gung Ho Raiders," The 
Reader's Digest, Dec. 1943. 


Rough Riders must have had a splendid group feeling that derived 
from the character of their leadership. And when the men in the 
ranks shouted remarks and suggestions to Uncle Billy or Marse 
Robert or Old Jack, everyone knew that there was then no question 
of disrespect; and that was leadership. 

Ordinary officers, perhaps, could hardly hope to copy the methods 
of such natural leaders as Rasmussen and Carlson. And yet many 
men who were not exactly geniuses of war have realized that a 
certain solidarity of officers and men is an essential of leadership. 
A story is told of a young Polish captain who was sent to the front 
in one of Poland's wars. He equipped himself with silk underwear 
and shirts, thinking in this manner to protect himself from lice. He 
reported to a wise old colonel, who scolded him violently for his 
forehandedness. If the men suffered from lice, the colonel said, then 
the officers must have lice too, else how could there be any brother- 
hood of men at arms? The colonel was also a noble and a count, 
and a man who in time of peace felt no such sense of kinship with 
the common people, but in time of war he knew that these common 
men were his brothers. 

Relationships between officers and men in the German army are 
reported to be excellent, and largely because of the systematic culti- 
vation of the sense of solidarity. 6 The officer, it is said, must be the 
teacher, the mentor, of his men rather than a mere institutional 
superior. He must keep in intimate touch with them. There must be 
daily inspections, personalized as much as possible; the officer should 
look each man in eye, and he should show interest in the attempts 
of the men to decorate their bare rooms. (Such attempts at decora- 
tion were encouraged because they were thought to promote indi- 
viduality.) The officer must never expose the soldier to ridicule, 
or hold him responsible for the officer's mistakes. The officer is 
supposed to congratulate the man on his birthday, being careful 
to ascertain the date from the files and not from the man himself. 
The soldier dresses in his best to receive these congratulations, the 
officer in his best to give them. Afterwards, the officer sends con- 
gratulations to the soldier's family as well. Thus a principle of 
American salesmanship has been applied to the promotion of Nazi 
army morale. 

6 See Ladislas Farago (ed.), German Psychological Warfare. Putnam, 1942, 
pp. 87 ff. 


Veterans Team to Recapture Their Lost Comradeship 

In the post-war period, the ex-soldier tries once more to recapture 
the experience of solidarity, a subject that many post-war novels 
treat with vivid realism. The ex-soldier's cynicism is in great part 
a reaction to the thing that he had once and misses now. When 
he was one of a group of comrades his life had purpose and 
meaning, and he resents the fact that such sacred things could end 
so badly. The ex-soldier's organizations, his reunions (which neces- 
sarily grow increasingly pathetic through the years), are means for 
reaching out for the things that he sought and found not in 
civilian society. When ex-soldiers get drunk at their conventions, 
when they whistle at women and dress in ridiculous costumes and 
throw furniture out of hotel windows, they are merely trying in 
a stupid way to recapture their youth and vanished comradeship. 

For many veterans, the comradeship in war remains the high 
point of their lives. Men do not often have the experience of fight- 
ing for a cause in concert with their fellows. The war and the army 
becomes the Alma Mater of many a man who never goes to college. 

Victory or defeat does not really affect this attitude. Whatever 
the outcome, the soldier remains a soldier still, and sighs for the 
old days, for the war that was really a war, and for all his vanished 
comrades. Such values remain meaningful to him, even though he 
rejects them. Perhaps, like Robert E. Lee, he will not permit 
any one to say in his presence that the struggle was bootless and 
his time in the army wasted. Perhaps, like Hemingway, he conceives 
a great distaste for the words "in vain," and believes the slaughter 
was as meaningless as that of the Chicago stockyards would be if 
nothing were done with the meat except to bury it. Such opposing 
attitudes are merely two different responses to the same essential 

We have said that the event of victory or defeat does not matter 
in the subsequent evaluation of a cause. That is not quite right. 
The truth is that the advantage is probably on the side of defeat. 
For sentiment's sake, it is better to lose. The cause that was lost, 
like the suitor who was rejected, like the child who died in youth, 
remains forever enshrined in memory and never undergoes the 
tests of maturity or the blemishes of age. A cause that wins must 
later be rigidified into an institution of some sort and administered 


by mortal and probably venal men; it must be sullied by corruption 
and bickering and avarice. The Union had its carpetbaggers and its 
era of good stealing; the South had only the memory of its Glorious 
Lost Cause. The Allied nations won their war to make the world 
safe for democracy in 1919, but their cause lost its luster before six 
months had passed. The Germans retained their cause and kept 
its memory alive. So it was for a century or more, with the bonny 
prince over the water, and with dismembered Poland. In terms of 
human sentiment, there can be no cause like a lost cause. 

But whether he belonged to an army that won or an army that 
lost, the soldier has been profoundly enriched by the experience 
in human solidarity. Having satisfied the hunger for "belonging 
to a group" a hunger that can never be quite satisfied in our world 
of individual enterprise and "each man for himself" the soldier 
will always cherish the memories of this comradeship. The exhila- 
ration of working together, in a common bond for a common 
purpose and in a common world twenty-four hours each day, can 
never be matched by such gratifications of individual civilian 
achievement as the average soldier is likely to know. 

But like most deeply gratifying experiences, the soldier's remem- 
bered sense of solidarity is a mixed blessing. Once he is returned 
to civilian life, he will feel the lack of the security of solidarity- 
there will be a great void in his life. He will remember the com- 
panionship; it will haunt him and he will seek to recapture it. No 
one can deprive him of the memory of this sense of unity, which 
is, from a practical point of view, an unfortunate thing. For if he 
could erase it from his mind, his adjustment to the "Root-hog-or- 
die" code of civilian living would be incomparably easier. Because 
of his life with his fellows and their consummate bond, the soldier- 
returned-to-civilian-life will never be quite the same. 

He Learns to Be 
Cruel and Merciful 

THERE is in every human being a set of tendencies to hurt others, 
to strike, to wound, to thwart, to deflate, to ruin, to kill, or 
otherwise to do damage to the lives and personalities of other 
human beings. We shall hereafter designate these behavior patterns 
as sadistic-aggressive tendencies. Though we do not know to what 
extent they are ingrained in the native equipment of human beings, 
we do know that they are modified by a great deal of social condi- 
tioning. In war, these tendencies undergo strange transformations. 
In civil life, the expression of sadistic-aggressive attitudes 
encounters many obstacles. Often there are strong components of 
hate in the complex attitudes which one has toward members of 
his family, but such hatreds can rarely be adequately expressed. 
Rebellion against one's father, rivalry toward a brother or sister, 
and other attitudes toward family members may become nodules 
of festering self-contradiction and eventually lead to neurosis. 
Women, especially when outside the family circle, are expected to 
keep a tighter rein upon aggressive tendencies than are men. 

The expression of aggressions in civil life follows complex and 
little understood patterns. The principal mode of release is 
furnished by persons who deviate from the established "rules" 
of society; the violation of these mores by one person gives others 
an opportunity to vent their pent-up hatreds upon him. Righteous 
indignation is the most socially acceptable way of releasing one's 
accumulated hostility. For this reason, the criminal makes a con- 
tribution to societylaw-abiding citizens can hate him with 
impunity and with an easy conscience. 

In our civilian society, superiors are able to express anger toward 
subordinates, the boss toward his employees, the white man toward 
the Negro. Children formerly furnished a very satisfactory outlet 
for the aggressive tendencies of adults. Adults were encouraged to 
be harsh by the venerable maxim "Spare the rod and spoil the 



child," but the newer theories of child-care have largely removed 
this innocent pleasure from our lives. Subordinated social groups, 
such as women and Negroes, are forced to express their aggressions 
indirectly or upon members of their own group. None of these 
outlets for hatred is altogether satisfactory. When war comes to a 
nation, many civilians find it exhilarating because it gives them a 
satisfactory hate experience. We can hate satisfactorily only when 
we are permitted to hate, which means, for most of us, that we 
do not hate enough, not hard enough or often enough for the 
demands of our own mental hygiene. Therefore we welcome the 
plenary indulgence of war for cruel thoughts and words. 

The Soldier Takes Hatred and Cruelty for Granted 

In the army, all this is changed. The soldier has an entirely legiti- 
mate outlet for his hatred; in fact, he has several more or less 
legitimate outlets, which is fortunate, because his life situation is 
such as to give him a great deal of hatred to express. Without any 
official encouragement, the soldier often hates his non-coms with 
passion, usually enjoying in this hatred the concurrence and 
approval of other enlisted men. Formally and officially, the soldier 
is encouraged to hate the enemy with all his heart and soul. But 
his hatred of the enemy, like any other attitude around which life 
is organized, tends to recede from the forefront of consciousness 
into the realm of the taken-for-granted. The soldier is also isolated 
from the civilian communication-system, which is another reason 
why he hates the enemy in a manner different from that of the 

In any event, the army does not rely solely upon hatred to make 
men fight, or indeed upon the consent of the soldier to anything 
that the army commands him to do. It is worth remembering that 
the army is far more successful in controlling the soldier's habit 
systems than in forming his opinions or summoning his emotions; 
it conditions him, trains him, controls him by organization, but 
it does not depend too much upon winning his consent. Soldiers 
fight because they are in the army; an army is a machine for fight- 
ing, and the soldiers in it have to fight. The soldier's business, of 
course, is killing, and the army does a good job of conditioning 
him for it. The soldier learns to kill in a cold-blooded, professional 


way, with weapons if possible, with bare hands if need be. The 
frustrations of army life the denial of sex, the want of comfort, 
the exactions of non-commissioned officers these and other similar 
army facts that make a soldier annoyed, irritable, and angry add to 
his aggressiveness with steady accumulations. 

For most men, war becomes a perfect excuse for killing, so that 
war experiences are completely dissociated from ordinary life. They 
may have little remembrance of them in later years. A German 
veteran of 1914-1918 once remarked to the writer, "Oh, I could 
never kill a man. Such a thing would be impossible for me." A few 
minutes later he remarked, having recalled the matter with some 
surprise. "Of course, I have killed many men. I used to run a trench 
mortar. I know I killed them because I used to see their bodies 
flung out of the trenches when the shells exploded." Thus with a 
certain gentle professor of philosophy who had devoted his life to 
the development of a not very intelligible system of philosophical 
thought; he was a kindly man who would not harm a fly, but he 
used to be a machine-gunner who mowed men down by hundreds, 
always trying to shoot them in the belly; he never thought of that 
any more. He had managed to exclude it from his consciousness 
as veterans always strive to do, once they are civilians again and 
weaned away from the thought of war. 

On occasion, however, the sadistic-aggressive tendencies of men in 
uniform get out of control. Soldiers may kill their officers, as they 
often threaten to do but actually do very rarely. Soldiers may fight 
among themselves, being, in Shakespeare's phrase, "sudden and 
quick in quarrels." The greatest perversion of these tendencies, 
however, occurs where soldiers tire of fighting the enemy 
and begin to compromise, to trade or otherwise to fraternize with 
him. This is a perennial problem of the leaders of armies. Charles 
Horton Cooley called this curious phenomenon "the sympathy 
of percussion." 

War -Weary Soldiers Fraternize with Their Enemies 

The aberration of the fighting spirit by virtue of which soldiers 
fraternize with the enemy is not necessarily inconsistent with valor 
in battle, but officers rightly regard it as dangerous to the morale 
of troops. Apparently it arises because the soldier comes to see 
that the enemy is a soldier like himself and like himself a human 


being caught in the deadly maelstrom of war. Respect for the 
other man's soldierly qualities is often involved in this sympathy. 
The ferocious civilian speaks of the enemy as the dirty Boche or 
dirty Jap or the Hun or Nazi, but the soldier knows that the 
enemy is a brave man and an able soldier, and he can speak of him 
almost affectionately as Jerry; nowadays the Germans are "the 
Krauts" to American soldiers. The contrast between the unrelent- 
ing civilian and the soldier is often illustrated when the time comes 
for making peace. Grant's terms to Lee were generous and fair, 
but they did not please some of those who had remained safely at 
home. Petain vainly relied on this mechanism when he asked Hitler 
for a peace, speaking as one soldier to another. 

Our own Civil War furnished many examples of the sympathy 
of percussion. Indeed, the tendency toward fraternization seems to 
have been strong throughout the war. A trade in tobacco, coffee, 
newspapers, and jackknives flourished between the lines. On occa- 
sion the fraternization reached dangerous proportions, and one 
Illinois regiment had to be disarmed and put under guard. Such 
an instance, however, was rare, and fraternization was not usually 
inconsistent with high morale. Sandburg describes the intercourse 
between the two armies as follows: 

On the picket lines flung out at night after the day's fighting 
were laughter and good will across enemy fronts, Meade's staff 
man Lyman writing, "These men are incomprehensible now 
standing from daylight to dark killing and wounding each 
other by thousands and now making jokes and exchanging 
newspapers, despite orders to the contrary. You see them lying 
side by side in the hospitals, talking together in that prosaic 
way that characterizes Americans. The great staples of conver- 
sation are the size and quality of rations, the marches they have 
made, and the regiments they have fought against. All sense 
of personal spite is sunk in the immensity of the contest." 1 

General Meade himself wrote, "I believe that these two armies 
would fraternize and make peace in an hour, if the matter rested 
with them; not on terms to suit politicians on either side, but such 
as the world at large would acknowledge as honorable, and which 
would be satisfactory to the mass of people on both sides." 2 Lin- 

iCarl Sandburg, Abraham Lincoln, The War Years. Harcourt Brace, 1939, 
Vol. Ill, p. 64. 
2 Ibid., p. 64. Note the slighting reference to politicians. 


coin himself welcomed evidences of "a fraternal feeling growing up 
between our men and the rank and file of the rebel soldiers. 3 

The literature of World War I contains frequent references to 
this same phenomenon. One of the best of these is the following 
passage from Robert C. SherrifFs Journey's End: 

RALEIGH: The Germans are really quite decent, aren't they? 
I mean, outside the newspapers. 

OSBORNE: Yes. [pause] I remember up at Wipers we had a 
man shot when he was out on patrol. Just at dawn. We couldn't 
get him in that night. He lay out there groaning all day. Next 
night three of our men crawled out to get him in. It was so 
near the German trenches that they could have shot our fellows 
one by one. But, when our men began dragging the wounded 
man back over the rough ground, a big German officer stood 
up in the trenches and called out, "Carry him!" and our 
fellows stood up and carried the man back, and the German 
officer fired some lights for them to see by. 

In that war there were occasional Christmas truces, and Alan 
Seeger noted that in 1915 fighting was becoming rarer and rarer 
along the front. 4 Other instances follow: 

It was so bad in parts of the line during November storms 
that whole sections of trench collapsed into a chaos of slime 
and ooze. It was the frost as well as the rain which caused this 
ruin, making the earthworks sink under their weight of sand- 
bag. German and English soldiers were exposed to one another 
like ants upturned from their nests by a minor landslide. 
They ignored one another. They pretended that the other 
fellows were not there. They had not been properly introduced. 
In another place, reckless because of their discomfort, the 
Germans crawled upon their slimy parapets and sat on top to 
dry their legs, and shouted, "Don't shoot! Don't shoot!" 5 

It is perhaps too soon to expect full-fledged examples of the sym- 
pathy of percussion to be reported from the present war, but there 
are signs that the attitudes from which this sympathy arises are 
developing. War Correspondent Leland Stowe recently reported as 

My friend, War Correspondent H. R. Knickerbocker, has 
just sent me some highly pertinent testimony about our Italian 

., p. 212. 

4 Alan Seeger, Letters and Diary. Scribner, 1917, pp. 100-101. 

5 Philip Gibbs, Now It Can Be Told. Harper, 1920, pp. 208-209. 


campaign. He says: "I heard the boys of the famous Iowa 
Division, who had been in the Cassino battle thirty-five days 
and had lost a pitiful number of their comrades, say, 'We ain't 
mad at anybody.' " 6 

Compare this statement with that of Corporal John F. O'Neill, of 
Maplewood, Missouri, who was recently repatriated after a stay in 
German hospitals and prison camps. He said, "German front-line 
soldiers are always gentlemen. The experiences of all our wounded 
have proven that." 7 

From many wars one may gather indications of this strange bond 
of sympathy between sworn enemies. The same soldier who at the 
beginning of a war strained with fury to "rip the guts" of the enemy 
can, when he has seen men die and had his fill of killing, look the 
other way when the enemy offers a convenient target for a bullet. 
His own personal hatred of the enemy has been lost in the im- 
mensity of the conflict, in the vast impersonality of war. He has 
come to realize that the enemy soldier is a fellow sufferer, a man 
like himself and like himself helpless against the human storm, 
nearer to him in spirit and in destiny than the civilians at home. 
He has learned that the enemy is a fellow craftsman even though 
he works for a different boss. The army is wise not to depend too 
much upon hatred, or upon any other emotion, to make the soldier 
fight. Hatred is for civilians, killing for soldiers, killing and 
forbidden acts of mercy. 

The ominous fact concerning the sympathy of percussion is that 
in terms of experience, training, temperament, and generalized 
attitudes the soldier may begin to feel that he has more in common 
with the enemy soldier than with the people back home. The 
dangers latent in such a feeling need no elaboration. When the 
soldier returns, his adjustment problems are vastly aggravated if 
he comes to hate civilians more than he ever hated his enemies. The 
pent-up sadistic-aggressive tendencies will not have been completely 
spent in war, for the things that feed them continue long after the 
last shot has been fired. It is society's urgent concern to remove 
from the path of the returning soldier any conditions that might 
impel him to vent his accumulated, unspent fury on society itself. 

6 From a broadcast by Leland Stowe, April 21, 1944, Blue Network. By per- 
mission of Leland Stowe. Later in the same broadcast Stowe quoted the follow- 
ing from the Soviet reporter, Ilya Ehrenburg: "War without hatred is as shame- 
ful as cohabitation without love." 

7 New York Herald Tribune, June 8, 1944. 

He Learns to Live 
with Fear, Horror, 
and Guilt 

THE control of fear is one of the soldier's and the army's prin- 
cipal problems. There is an extensive literature on the subject 
as well as a considerable body of practical knowledge. John 
Dollard, however, on the basis of a study of 300 veterans of the 
Abraham Lincoln Brigade, in the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939, 
has given us our most exact information about the matter. 1 For 
the most part, Bollard's findings accord very well with the military 
tradition that has been built up through experience. Most soldiers 
know fear. Three-quarters of Bollard's veterans reported feeling 
afraid when they went into their first action, but most of them 
found that fear diminished in subsequent engagements. Military 
writers sometimes speak of this first action, the moment when a 
man suddenly realizes that those others are really shooting at him, 
the moment when troops become "blooded." 

According to Bollard's study, the bodily symptoms of fear in 
battle are the same as in civilian life: pounding heart and rapid 
pulse in 69 per cent of the cases, muscular tenseness in 45 per cent, 
a "sinking feeling in the stomach" in 44 per cent, dry mouth in 33 
per cent, and clammy hands in 22 per cent. Soldiers were most 
afraid of wounds in the abdomen, eyes, brain, and genitals, in that 
order. Green soldiers were more afraid of showing cowardice than 
of being crippled or disfigured, but battle-tried veterans had a 
greater fear of being crippled. Bollard's group felt that regimental 
pride, belief in war aims, leadership, training, and materiel were 
very important in controlling fear. They also believed that fear 
should be frankly admitted and discussed before battle. 

Fear is a reasonably clear-cut, recognizable emotional state. Some- 

1 Dollard, John, privately published by The Institute of Human Relations, to 
be republished by The Infantry Journal. 



times it is mingled with horror, and often horror predominates. 
War is full of horrors. Many soldiers carry with them into life after 
the war the memory of these jumbled emotions of fear and horror. 
For some, at least, these emotions are complicated by feelings of 
guilt. For most soldiers at most times, war is a situation outside their 
personal codes of behavior, and only occasionally does it become 
personal and human. Not only is battle impersonal, but it carries 
with it its own anaesthesia, in the form of stupefying noise, con- 
fusion, movement, and emotional turmoil, so that memories are 
less sharp and clear than they might otherwise be. But some small 
fragment of experience is apt to be singled out and preserved as a 
symbol of the whole chamber of horrors, and it is likely to seem 
extremely personal. 

An Episode Sometimes Condenses the Whole of Horror 

A former ambulance driver of World War I, holder of one of 
the highest awards for heroism, will say little about the war except 
that many times he put three live ones in his ambulance and 
removed three dead ones. Another tells of a time in the trenches 
when the shells kept digging up the dead, who had to be buried 
over and over again after each progressively nauseous exhumation. 
A shell-shocked veteran traces the origin of his difficulties to a rela- 
tively slight incident in which he pulled a man's body out of a 
wrecked plane and found it without a head. Another soldier's 
horror was centered in the recollection of the body of an unknown 
in the middle of a road, mashed as flat as wall-paper by passing 
traffic. A veteran of Singapore tells of a bomb that hit a sick-bay, 
and of pieces of human flesh embedded in the steel walls of a ship, 
a situation reminiscent of one described by Hemingway, when the 
members of his outfit had to pick small pieces of female flesh off 
the strands of barbed wire after an explosion in a munitions plant. 
A young aviator in the recent novel, Shore Leave, by Frederic 
Wakeman, reports with grim humor an incident in which he was 
shelled and the man in the next bunk killed; he was unable to 
wash for a few days and began to stink, and when he finally took 
off his clothes to wash he found a few pounds of human flesh in 
them. Our war with the Japanese is replete with horrors, from 
which the ingredient of cruelty is not absent. Some soldiers knock 


the teeth out of the mouths of dead Japanese and keep them for 
souvenirs or use them as articles of commerce, gold teeth being 
especially prized for this purpose. Or, one may cut off the upper 
portion of a Japanese skull, throw it to the rats and the ants, and 
when these humble servitors have obligingly cleaned it, use it as 
a very superior kind of ash-tray. A German soldier is said to have 
accumulated a considerable fortune by assiduously collecting gold 
teeth and gold fillings from Russian corpses. 

A stock situation of the war novelists is that in which a soldier 
is brought face to face with a man he has mortally wounded, and he 
must then watch that man slowly die and as the man dies he 
becomes no longer a hated enemy but just a man and a son and 
a husband and a father who wanted to go home to his family and 
had no wish to fight or kill or to meet death in a shell-hole. Of 
course, this sort of thing probably occurs rarely in modern war, 
because most killing is done at long range. A less hackneyed guilt 
situation is that described with excellent psychological insight in 
The Red Badge of Courage, where the young Union soldier leaves 
a crazed and wounded comrade to die, and knows that he will carry 
the memory of that heartless act to the grave. 

Guilt Feelings Arise from One's Own Conflicting Motives 

Often only a narrow margin separates the horrible from the 
pleasurable. Sometimes it seems that feelings of guilt arise not so 
much from the cruel things one must do in war as from the pleas- 
ure one inadvertently finds in them. The good warrior must exult 
in battle, but the good Christian can take no pleasure in killing. 
Even the gentle Lee a tender nurse of sick women could feel the 
joy of battle, and he was afraid of it. When the victory of his 
army was being forged at Fredericksburg, he turned to Longstreet 
and "revealed the whole man in a single brief sentence: 'It is well 
that war is so terrible we should grow too fond of it.' " An utter- 
ance, as a British correspondent who stood by believed, of "antique 
heroism." 2 

That is the kind of memory that men bring out of battle, of a 
confusion of action and movement and a mingling of fear and 
horror and guilt. The extreme reaction of the psychoneurotic 

2 Douglas Southall Freeman, R. E. Lee. Scribner, Vol. II, p. 462. 


soldiers to such incidents certainly has its basis in the previous 
experience of a poorly balanced organism. In many cases the shock- 
ing situation is so mild in nature that it is difficult to understand 
the extreme reaction to it. But there is every evidence that normal 
men react in the same way to a lesser degree. We may suppose that 
every soldier who has seen front-line service is at least mildly shell- 
shocked, as well as a great many who got nowhere near the front. 
This is an important clue to the understanding of the personality 
of the veteran. 

The mental state which we have called the sense of solidarity 
is the greatest antidote to fear and probably also to horror and 
guilt. Bollard's fiindings and the best military tradition agree on 
the importance of solidarity. All but 3 per cent of Bollard's cases 
thought that pride in one's outfit would have some effect on them, 
while 77 per cent put belief in war aims highest in the list of factors 
combatting fear. Bollard's cases would probably be inclined to 
over-emphasize ideology. They were unusual soldiers, all volunteers, 
all politically minded and idealistic to such a degree that they 
were willing to go abroad to fight for a country not their own, and 
they were not very well-trained as soldiers. 

While we should not on that account disregard the opinions of 
these men, many lessons of experience warn us against an over- 
emphasis of belief in a political cause as a basis of good military 
performance. Some of the best soldiers have been mercenaries, 
including some excellent troops serving in the present war. Franco's 
Moors, opposing the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, were mercenaries 
who certainly had no cause to fight for, but they fought well none 
the less. The truth seems to be that it is solidarity that most 
opposes fear, and there are various ways in which to get this sense 
of solidarity in a military organization. Solidarity may come from 
belief in a cause, but that is the hardest kind of solidarity to obtain 
and the least dependable. The quickest, easiest, and surest way to 
get solidarity is through good organization and good leadership, 
through such methods as are described in an earlier chapter. 
Leadership and organization can do more to help the average man 
to overcome his fear than any amount of attempted indoctrination 
with a cause. 

But this same sense of solidarity that enables the soldier to con- 
quer feelings of fear and guilt may also, in an indirect manner, 


be the cause of them. Two army psychiatrists recently reported 
some astonishing findings bearing on this point. 3 The psychiatrists 
first describe the manner in which group solidarity develops in a 
unit of the army, and then analyze the feelings of guilt with which 
individuals torture themselves because of real or fancied violations 
of this solidarity. 

"One of the most amazing revelations derived by our uncovering 
technique," say Grinker and Spiegel, "has been the universality of 
guilt reactions, not only in men who have been removed from 
combat because of anxiety states but also in those who have success- 
fully and honorably completed their tour of duty. These guilt 
reactions are related to the most varied, irrational and illogical 
experiences. A comrade was killed on a mission which he took 
instead of the patient. Hundreds of little acts which the patient 
did or did not do are the bases of self-accusations and we often 
hear the guilty cry, 'I should have got it instead of him I' The 
intensity of these guilt feelings is proportional to the severity of 
the inner conflicts." 

It is well known that flyers often become mentally disorganized 
as they approach the end of a tour of duty. They become anxious 
because they are soon to leave their squadron and thus to violate 
their deepest loyalty. As Grinker and Spiegel put it, the flyer 
"becomes intensively anxious on his last, or next to last, mission, 
feeling that he will never reach his goal. This is the initial displaced 
manifestation of guilt over the anticipated desertion of his 

Flyers on leave often develop queer psychological quirks as a 
result of this same basic conflict. They may become chronic alco- 
holics, or develop severe digestive disturbances at this point, in this 
manner inflicting upon themselves the penalties of desertion. The 
flyer who returns to his home and is lionized for heroic exploits 
may still torture himself with the feeling of unworthiness and guilt. 
Drs. Grinker and Spiegel add an ominous note concerning a report 
from one of the overseas air forces in which "it was clearly brought 
out that men who had successfully finished a tour of duty showed 

3 Lieutenant-Colonel Roy R. Grinker and Major John P. Spiegel of the Army Air 
Forces Medical Corps. Their discoveries were made in the process of "narco-synthesis," 
a sort of "talking cure," administered with the aid of drugs. A digest of their paper 
was published in the New York Times, May 17, 1944. 


a quantity of aggressive behavior so great that they have been 
likened to delinquent adolescents, or 'dead-end kids.' " 4 

It is certainly obvious that these highly disturbing emotional 
experiences will handicap many of the soldiers when they return 
to civilian life. Many may be expected to break for reasons of 
psychoneurosis, years after the end of the war, when the difficulties 
of civilian life put some unusual strain upon a weakened segment 
of their emotional structure. This is in accord with our experience 
of World War I. 

The problem of helping these psychologically battered veterans 
to regain their balance is very great and most urgent, but not 
insoluble. If we are to solve it, we must begin now to train thou- 
sands of technicians to deal with such cases. We discuss some of 
these matters at greater length in Part IV of this book. 

4 Without displaying any psychiatric insight into the matter, Frederic Wakeman 
describes such behavior in his novel, Shore Leave, which we have elsewhere discussed. 

He Learns a New 
Code of Morals: 
Courage Is All 

MANY features of army life contribute to a certain moral irre- 
sponsibility on the part of the soldier. The soldier is 
isolated from the family that nourished him and kept him 
in tutelage until he entered military service. He is more or less 
out of contact with the young women of his own age who would 
ordinarily be his eligible mates; ordinarily he cannot marry and 
if he does marry he cannot live with his wife in the normal manner. 
The church with which he was formerly associated can reach him 
no more; in its place stands the army chaplain who, hardworking 
as he probably is, can hardly hope to control his flock of young 
men. The local community with its thousands of Mr. and Mrs. 
Grundys and its small groups of people whose opinion matters 
cannot any longer keep watch on the boy now in uniform and 
regulate his behavior by gossip. In a word, the soldier is emanci- 
pated from most, if not all, the controls of civilian life. 

Economically, the soldier does not need to strive. Financial incen- 
tive is, for all practical purposes, non-existent. Food, shelter, cloth- 
ing, and medical care are free goods, all made available to him with- 
out his asking. No planning or management on his part is likely to 
enable the soldier to obtain more than these elementary necessities 
plus a few equally elementary luxuries. He must do his military duty, 
and the army will take care of his needs. 

Money does not and cannot mean to the soldier what it means 
to the civilian. It does not stand between him and starvation, 
guarantee his future, or purchase social position. It may therefore 
be spent recklessly or gambled with, and gambling is in fact a 
sort of fighting play that grows out of sadistic-aggressive tendencies 
cultivated by the army. While money has no real value for the 
soldier, simple luxuries are often extremely rare under war condi- 



tions; if he wants them badly enough he will not hesitate to pay 
fantastic prices and, in fact, he has paid as much as three dollars 
for a lemon, five dollars for a bottle of 3.2 beer, fifty dollars for a 
bottle of whiskey. From the civilian's point of view, this is irra- 
tional behavior. In the soldier's world, it makes sense, because 
money has little value. In the case of the officer, long trips and 
sudden changes of residence make it expedient for him to keep 
large sums of cash in his pocket, which similarly produces an 
attitude toward money utterly alien to the civilian. 

Because the soldier's life is not under his own control, he is 
freed from the sense of personal responsibility. He cannot plan, 
because he has no control over his future. His task is to play the 
part that the military machine assigns to him and to await the 
decisions of an inscrutable destiny. Even his time is not his to 
budget and to organize; it is all but useless for him to keep a 
date book or a schedule of engagements. Time is not money to 
the soldier and not a dimension of self-initiated designs. It is 
merely something that belongs to the army and that passes. Death 
is always possible, and it may be just around the corner. Any day, 
any hour may be the last. Small wonder that the soldier snatches 
eagerly whatever satisfactions his life affords without weighing the 
implications of his behavior with too great a degree of moral nicety. 

The solidarity of soldier society gives plenary indulgence to 
those sins that soldiers are most likely to commit. Everyone else 
commits them, or so it seems, and therefore one's own behavior has 
social justification. The army attitude toward sex behavior tradi- 
tionally permits a certain license. The rest of the world expects 
the soldier to behave with some freedom in such matters. Similarly, 
prescriptions and taboos concerning property change their nature 
when one goes from a civilian life to the army. Property may not 
only be appropriated and used by persons other than its legal 
owner, but it may also be put to many uses for which it was never 
intended, and it may be wantonly destroyed. Where masses of men 
are concerned, it does not seem to matter very much whether they 
are a group of chaplains or recruits for the regular army; both 
groups are highly destructive except when military discipline brings 
this tendency under control. However, the soldier's morality com- 
bined with his feelings of brotherhood in war demands the sharing 
of property to a degree unknown in civilian life. It is reported that 


Marines on Tarawa shared their last cigarettes, carefully fluffing 
up the package to hide the fact that it was the last. Such incidents 
have been reported many times in the annals of war. This is 
morality, and a high morality, although it is opposed to the cus- 
tomary practices of our society. 

And it may come about that the soldier's morality demands the 
sacrifice of life itself. The current newspapers are full of tales of 
such heroism as that of Lieutenant Robert Craig, who, on July 11, 
1943, at Favoratta, Sicily, charged a group of a hundred Germans 
in order to draw their fire away from his men a feat from which 
there was no possibility of personal survival. Lieutenant Craig 
received the Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously. Such 
instances are recorded in the annals of almost every nation. Appar- 
ently such things have always been, and men have always admired 

He " Takes the Cash and Lets the Credit Go" 

Almost inevitably, the soldier falls into a short-term hedonism. 
In the place of the accepted morality of civilian society, the soldier 
regulates his life by individualistic, hedonistic adjustments on a 
short-term basis. Morality is a matter of the long pull; it involves 
long-term rewards and punishments. The college boy studies now, 
content in the belief that he will collect his greatest rewards 
thirty years from now. He is continent, because he intends one 
day to marry; honest, not only because he has been taught to be 
honest but because, in the long run, it is much the best policy. 
But if the soldier has no future, as all too often he has not, morality 
cannot have much appeal. The soldier "takes the cash and lets the 
credit go," hoping to "live a little while before he dies forever." 
Giving up hope of the first-rate and despairing of the worth-while, 
he grasps eagerly at the cheap and quick and tawdry. When he 
returns to civilian life, it is difficult for him to adjust his life to 
long-term planning once again. It is harder for him to work for 
the distant future than it can ever be for the man who has never 
known war and the luxury of living entirely for the present. 

The recent novel Shore Leave tells of the reckless hedonism of 
the front-line fighters of the present war. 1 The novel, recounting 

1 Frederic Wakcman, Shore Leave. Farrar and Rinehart, 1944. 


certain episodes in the life of four young naval aviators, centers 
around one Crewson, a fabulous character who has a hectic love 
affair with a gorgeous creature named Gwynneth. These young men 
pride themselves on having seen the worst of war and braved its 
deadliest perils; only fighters count in their universe. They prefer 
their gold-braid tarnished and their uniforms almost in tatters, 
preferences that cause much grief to the shore-bound admirals and 
the special police. Civilians male civilians are vague creatures 
who mean little in the combat pilot's world. The chatter of 
civilians is so much hog-wash. Men of battle and of the sky need 
not even trouble to tell the truth to civilians; it is useless to try 
to communicate anything to them anyhow, and better to spin out 
some fantastic yarn. When a civilian explains that he would like to 
do his part, but what can he do with a wife, three children, and 
a mortgage, the young aviators become slightly nauseated. They 
joke, as did the soldiers of World War I, about what they are 
doing to maintain the morale of civilians. War aims are not for 
such men. They are for civilians; they are big sloppy words and 
combinations of words such as civilians like. The Four Freedoms? 
Big, sloppy words. Why do these men fight? Says Crewson, "You 
fight to win, period." One forgets so easily the end of war when 
he is actively engaged in the war process. 

Like many other men who have a rendezvous with death, these 
young aviators have the morals of alley-cats. "All I ever see of a 
town any more are the bars, the hotels, and the women," as Crewson 
puts it. Crewson has a wife, but she is far away, and he may never 
have another shore leave, and the others have wives also, but such 
things do not matter in war. Crewson's wife is no more to him 
than a nasty reminder to call Operator Six at Great Neck. No 
property rights mean anything any more; money does not mean 
anything; nothing counts but liquor, women, and fighting. Like 
Hemingway's characters, the young men of Wakeman's novels 
philosophize sometimes and strike off crisp cynicisms when they 
are not too drunk. At least from the surface of their minds they 
exclude the thought of the morrow. 

Courage and Valor Are the Highest Virtues 
That the soldier develops compensatory virtues should go with- 


out saying. His job is to fight, to die if need be with antique 
courage. The pages of history are full of the names of brave soldiers 
who did their duty unto death, and literature abounds in eloquent 
tributes to such men. One of the best of such eulogies is Carlyle's 
little oration concerning the Swiss Guards at the Tuileries. It 
illustrates our point well. 

Oh ye stanch Swiss, ye gallant gentlemen in black, for what 
a cause are ye to spend and be spent! Look out from the 
western windows, ye may see King Louis placidly hold on his 
way; the poor little prince royal "sportfully kicking the fallen 
leaves" . . . And ye? Left standing there, amid the yawning 
abysses, and earthquake of insurrection; without course, with- 
out command; if ye perish, it must be as more than martyrs, 
as martyrs who are now without a cause! The black courtiers 
disappear mostly; through such issues as they can. The poor 
Swiss know not how to act; one duty only is clear to them, 
that of standing by their post; and they will perform that . . . 

Surely few things in the history of carnage are painfuler. 
What ineffaceable red streak, flickering so sad in the memory, 
is that, of this poor column of red Swiss, "breaking itself in 
the confusion of opinions"; dispersing, into blackness and 
death. Honor to you, brave men; honorable pity, through long 
times. Not martyrs were ye; and yet almost more. He was no 
king of yours, this Louis; and he forsook you like a king of 
shreds and patches; ye were but sold to him for some poor 
sixpence a day; yet would ye work for your wages, keep your 
plighted word. The work now was to die, and ye did it. Honor 
to you, Oh Kinsmen; and may the old Deutsch Beiderkeit and 
Tapferkeit, and valor which is worth and truth, be they Swiss, 
be they Saxon, fail in no age! Not bastards; trueborn were 
these men; sons of the men of Semback, of Murten, who knelt 
but not to thee, Oh Burgundy! Let the traveler, as he passes 
through Lucerne, turn aside to look a little at their monu- 
mental lion; not for Thorwaldsen's sake alone. Hewn out of 
living rock, the figure rests there, by the still lake waters, in 
lullaby of distant-tinkling ranz des vaches, the granite moun- 
tains dumbly keeping watch all round; and though inanimate, 
speaks. 2 

All sorts and conditions of men have contributed to these armies, 
great and small, that died for duty and for honor white, black, red, 

2 Thomas Carlyle, The French Revolution, Vol. II, Chap. VII. 


and yellow men, slaves and freeborn, criminals and law-abiders, 
infidels and God-fearers, all have been martyrs with or without 
causes. Often they were mercenaries who died so; sometimes they 
were poor "pressed men" forced all unwilling into service. They 
may have been evil men whose only goal was booty; possibly they 
were patriots enamored of a cause. It does not seem to have 
mattrred very much: they were soldiers. Men will die just as 
readily and as heroically in a bad cause as in a good one. Hous- 
man tells of the army of mercenaries who "took their wages and 
are dead;" they "saved the sum of things for pay," but they 
might just as well have "died in defence of a chicken-brained 
harlot." They could equally well have been patriots who offered 
up their lives in a glorious cause. Their valor was their justification 
whether they died in good causes or bad. That is the implicit creed 
of the soldier. Valor is the great virtue courage, steadfastness in 
duty, bravery. 

So urgent is this virtue in the mind of the soldier that Christian 
civilian society accepts it unquestioningly, even though the implica- 
tions are strongly pagan. The very Christian Robert E. Lee re- 
marked after the Battle of Gettysburg: "The conduct of the troops 
was all that I could desire or expect, and they deserved success 
in so far as it can be deserved by heroic valor and fortitude." 3 
The major premise is clearly that success is deserved by courage 
and not by the merits of one's cause. How far is this from the 
"might is right" slogan that America uttered with such scorn when 
Kaiser Wilhelm proclaimed it in the 1914-1918 years? Not only is 
Lee's premise amoral in terms of Christian civilization; it is also 
the soldier's philosophy implicit. 

Lincoln subscribed to the same credo in speaking of the same 
battle. In his Gettysburg Address he expressed sentiments utterly 
non-Christian in nature but marked by a high religious tone. "But 
in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we 
cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who 
struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to 
add or detract." Religious, certainly; but certainly non-Christian; 
for Christianity, custodian of absolute truth, cannot grant that two 
opposed ideals can both be true can both be virtuous. The conse- 

3 Douglas Southall Freeman, R. E. Lee. Scribner, 1934, Vol. Ill, p. 155. 


cration, therefore, that Lincoln pays tribute to, is one that arises 
from courage great, valorous courage of men dedicated to an ideal. 
By implication the ideal itself content of the cause cannot matter 
because any army dedicated to an ideal and valorous in behalf of 
an ideal must be virtuous and capable of consecrating the battle- 
field. The content of the ideal (the end) is secondary; the valorous 
act of striving (the means) is primary. 

It is interesting in this connection to examine our word "virtue." 
Its Latin root virtus is best translated as "valor." The roots of the 
pagan cult of bravery are in fact very deep in our culture. We 
cannot believe that any man who is brave can be wholly bad. The 
most abandoned criminal, the crudest outlaw, if he dies bravely, 
wins a portion of our admiration and so softens somewhat our 
condemnation of his acts. For his courage has "consecrated the act" 
in our eyes our still somewhat pagan eyes! 

This central virtue of the soldier like the other new virtues that 
constitute his new morality is far from useful in peacetime society. 
A man does not have much chance to be brave in civilian life. In 
fact, physical bravery does not matter greatly either by its presence 
or absence once the war is over. If a man is a coward, that rarely 
interferes with his business or profession; if he is brave, he rarely 
receives any credit for it. So with the other virtues of the soldier; 
they are often irrelevant to competitive peacetime living. If a man 
is loyal to his friends, very good, provided he does not carry the 
matter to extremes, but if he is too loyal, so that he sacrifices himself 
for others, then the more fool he. 

By and large, virtue in the soldier inheres in just one kind of 
thing for which there are many names adherence to duty, loyalty, 
steadfastness, bravery, call it what you will and this one intensive 
and solidary virtue matters to the civilian hardly at all. 

He Revalues 
"Civilized Attitudes" 
and Religion 

IF A PERSON has a tack in his shoe and keeps on wearing the shoe 
' and does not remove the tack, after a time he develops a callus. 
The callus is a sore spot, but it covers the tack and is the best 
protection that Nature could improvise. So if one has a gnawing 
anxiety in his mind or a yearning and a hungering in his soul, these 
things also give rise to callusses mental growths, protective devices 
which, however unsuitable they may be ordinarily, nevertheless help 
to deal with an abnormal situation. 

The soldier suffers many hardships, hungers, anxieties, and irri- 
tations. From within himself he calls forth a bitter strength, and a 
kind of humor that enables him to bear the burdens of his exist- 
ence. He suffers physical deprivation and hardship; in order to 
bear such things he becomes physically hardened. He yearns for 
love but cannot have it; he degrades it by obscenity and coarseness 
so that it will seem not worth having. He fears death; therefore 
he makes light of death. To buttress all these attitudes, he develops 
little snatches of philosophy, which like other philosophies befog 
unpleasant certainties and befool the mind with illogical logic. He 
develops belief systems, and like anyone else is emotionally attached 
to those beliefs in proportion to the degree of his suspicion that 
they are false. In short, the soldier develops a mental system, com- 
plete with attitudes, behavior patterns, forms of logic, beliefs and 
philosophy, custom-tailored to the needs of his life. 

The soldier's life is bitter hard, and because it must be bitter 
hard there arises a kind of cult of hardness and fitness to give men 
the qualities to stand it. The soldier must call upon his body for 
incredible exertions, long marches with heavy packs, and days with- 
out sleep or food. He must sleep on the ground, live in a foxhole, 
endure dirt and flies and the assorted insects served on the menu 



of each locality. To meet these trials, he develops physical fitness, 
and not only fitness but also the belief that fitness is a great virtue. 
Proud of his endurance, he soon comes to look down on the soft 
civilian. Perhaps he resolves never to let himself get soft when he 
returns to civilian life, happily oblivious to the stubborn fact that 
few men in civilian pursuits are ever able to exercise all day; 
unaware that diligence, in most civilian pursuits, consists precisely 
in applying the seat of one's pants to a chair for long periods of 
time. But while the soldier is in the army, physical fitness serves 
him well. 

To meet the other hardnesses of army life, there arise other kinds 
of fitness. The necessity of preparing to be a killer engenders in 
the soldier an almost prideful attitude toward murder and its 
instruments. When soldier and civilian meet, the soldier sometimes 
says and more often thinks, "I could kill you. One smash of a gun 
butt would splatter your brains all over the sidewalk. And I know 
several sure-fire ways of killing you with my bare hands." And he 
may add, "Perhaps you have more money than I have. You don't 
deserve it. I could take it away from you if I wanted to." But in 
the back of his mind the soldier, reared to be a peaceful and not 
a murderous citizen, still revolts at brutality; he is uneasy about it 
and it hurts his conscience sometimes. From such conflicts, humor 
provides a mode of escape, and brutality comes to be regarded as 
screamingly funny. 

It was astonishing how loudly one laughed at tales of grue- 
some things, of war's brutality I with the rest of them. I think 
at the bottom of it was a sense of the ironical contrast between 
the normal ways of civilian life and this harkback to the cave- 
man code. It made all our old philosophy of life monstrously 
ridiculous. 1 

The soldier has an unfulfilled and unfulfillable yearning for love, 
and because this yearning cannot be satisfied he degrades love by 
cultivating obscenity. This obscenity is apparently characteristic of 
all armies; the speech of soldiers is always coarse and doubtless 
there were many dirty remarks among Joshua's warriors when they 
stormed Jericho and, in faithful execution of their orders, spared 
no one but Rahab the harlot who was also a fifth columnist. The 

1 Philip Gibbs, Now It Can Be Told. Harper, 1920, p. 130. 


psychology of obscenity is simple. One longs for love, not mere 
carnal gratification, one cannot have love, and therefore one de- 
grades it by referring to it constantly in the crudest, coarsest, and 
most undignified terms that language provides. Thus one attempts 
to persuade one's self that this thing which one cannot have is not 
worth having anyhow. 

Like other love-starved men and women, soldiers take great 
delight in pets. Sometimes this need for something to love causes 
them to cherish strange creatures, such as lice and fleas and other 
fauna rarely cultivated by civilians. More often they turn to 
animals more in keeping with the ordinary tastes of mankind, the 
most popular pets of soldiers, as of civilians, being dogs and little 
children. The affinity of dogs and soldiers is proverbial, a love 
match lasting since men were men and dogs were dogs. A soldier 
in a training camp writes as follows concerning the role of the 
dog in army life: 

There is no question that the dog is man's best friend but 
in the army man is the dog's best friend. When I first arrived 
at camp I was immediately struck by the number of dogs of 
all descriptions running loose. There wasn't a single company 
that didn't have at least several dogs to attend all formations 
and follow each group as it marched to details. 

A position we moved into had a Great Dane who'd been the 
pet of the first sergeant of the preceding unit. He slept in a bed 
of his own in the sergeant's barracks and was carried on the 
ration list as a private first class. Whenever a jeep went out of 
the area he rode proudly in back. The men of our group took 
to him at once and he soon had his court of admirers and 
caretakers. He was joined at intervals by various house pets 
who had strayed from nearby homes to the easy food and ex- 
citing life of an army dog. Rarely were there less than three 
mutts on hand. 

The Great Dane really came into his own as an idol of the 
enlisted men when he wandered away to the regimental head- 
quarters one day and reared up onto the colonel's shoulders, 
knocking the latter to the ground. A traffic accident brought 
the Great Dane to an ignoble end. He was buried with full 
military honors near the flagpole. The battery commander read 
a posthumous good conduct medal citation which was placed 
in the coffin. The bugle played Taps and his special friends 
lowered the body into the grave. 


A gargantuan Saint Bernard was brought in to fill the void 
left by the untimely end of the Great Dane, but could not gain 
the universal favor of his predecessor. Having been brought 
up as a watchdog by a private family, he couldn't seem to get 
used to large groups but became the special care of one great 
hulk of a fellow. This man was of somewhat dull normal 
mentality. His wife had had a child shortly after his induction 
and he'd seen the child only a few times. Many an evening 
I've seen the great brute sleeping on the floor of the recreation 
room with his huge human friend rocking in a chair beside 
him and beaming proudly as everyone else made cautious de- 
tours of the neighborhood. The Saint Bernard was found to be 
too unsociable, and, after tearing a number of jackets and 
trousers, was returned to his former owner. His friend still car- 
ries his photo and will discourse at great length, upon the 
slightest provocation. 

Soldiers also adopt children, children of all races, children of 
enemy countries about as readily as any others. Ernie Pyle writes 
as follows of the pets of American soldiers in Italy: 

I've told you time and again about the dogs our soldiers 
have taken as pets and mascots. Running second to dogs, I 
believe, are Italian kids. There's no way of estimating how 
many Italian boys have been adopted by our troops, but there 
must be hundreds. 

An outfit will pick up some kid, usually one who has been 
orphaned by bombing and has no home and no place to go. 
The children come along of their free will, of course, and 
they begin having the time of their lives. 

The soldiers cut down extra uniforms and clothe them in 
straight GI. The youngsters pick up English so fast it makes 
your head swim. They eat better than they have eaten in 
years. The whole thing is exciting and adventuresome to them. 
The units keep them in areas as safe as can be found when 
they go into action . . . 

I do know of Sicilian adoptees who were brought along 
on the invasion of Italy, just like the animal pets. And 
I've heard of two other adoptees, already written up by some 
of the other correspondents, who stowed away and went on the 
Anzio beachhead landings. 2 

The possibility of death and the fear of death are central prob- 

2 Ernie Pyle, Scripps-Howard newspaper column, 1944, and Henry Holt, pub- 


lems of the soldier's life. The most direct answer to these problems 
is the cult of courage to which we have already referred. As to 
fear, the front-line soldier accepts it and is not ashamed; perhaps 
he even slightly overdoes the pose of being always horribly afraid. 
Bollard's Spanish Civil War veterans showed a considerable degree 
of tolerance for the soldier who cracks up under fear-producing 
situations, and the same tolerance was shown by soldiers of World 
War I. Civilians are probably less tolerant in this respect. 

He Takes on New Attitudes to Make Life Bearable 

Many systems of attitudes and beliefs are devised by the human 
mind to make the risk of death easier to bear. Death in war is 
glorious; dulce et decorum est pro patria moriit is sweet and 
fitting to die for one's country. Death for the cause is glorious, for by 
that death we shall gain a better world. Death is bad, but better 
than defeat; better to die than to be ruled by Fascists. Better a dead 
lion than a live hyena. Such things people say in war, and every- 
one nods his head and says, "True, true! How true!" but relatively 
few persons are really convinced by such sayings. We whistle words 
to keep our courage up. 

Fatalistic creeds nourish in war; they become the common speech 
of the day. Death will come to you only from the bullet that has 
your name on it, and that bullet has not been manufactured yet; 
death will come for others, of course, but not for you. Death will 
take you when your time comes, but not before; nothing can 
change the date of your fated rendezvous with death, your appoint- 
ment in Samara. Perhaps one pins his faith to some charm or 
amulet, a pocket testament, or a rabbit's foot. As Gibbs remarks, 
"They became fatalists after a few fights, and believed in their 
luck, or their mascots teddy-bears, a bullet that had missed them, 
china dolls, a girl's lock of hair, a silver ring. Yet at the back of 
their brains, most of them, I fancy, knew that it was only a question 
of time before they 'went west.' " 3 

The fear of death gives rise to curiously amusing intellectual 
contrivances. One is either at the front, or not; if not, there is 
nothing to worry about. If at the front, the enemy is shelling or 
he is not; and if not, there is nothing to worry about. If he is 

3 Philip Gibbs, op. cit., p. 389. 


shelling, one gets hit or not, and if not, there is nothing to worry 
about. If one gets hit, he is killed or not; if killed he need not 
worry. If one is wounded, the wound is serious or not and so on 
to the end. A similar formulation proves with fairly valid logic 
than when a man is killed in war it is an accident. 

Other philosophies belittle or make fun of the Grim Reaper 
himself. "Death," says A. H. Gibbs, "we faced daily, hourly, with a 
laugh." 4 As Philip Gibbs puts it, "Death, their own, or other 
people's does not mean very much to some who, in the trenches, 
sat within a few yards of stinking corpses, knowing that the next 
shell might make such of them. Life was cheap in war. Is it not 
cheap in peace?" 5 Death, perhaps is not so hard to take, when one 
has toughened himself to war, but the waiting for death is never 

"Death is nothing," said one young officer just down from the 
Somme fields for a week's rest cure for jangled nerves. "I don't care 
a damn for death; but it's the waiting for it, the devilishness of its 
uncertainty, the sight of one's pals blown to bits about one, and the 
animal fear under shell-fire that break one's pluck. . . . My nerves 
are like fiddle-strings." 6 

He Is Reported Overwhelmingly Indifferent to Religion 

There are many honest and sincere people who believe that the 
answers to the soldier's problems are to be found in conventional 
religion. These people have seized upon the saying, "There are no 
atheists in fox-holes," and upon a few dramatic incidents as proof 
that there is a great revival of religion among the armed forces. 
While there is some difference of opinion, the facts do not seem 
to support this belief. In the early months of 1944, Time magazine 
presented convincing statements from Dr. Daniel A. Poling, Dr. 
Bernard Iddings Bell, and an unnamed Catholic chaplain. Cer- 
tainly none of these men has a bias against religion; not one of 
them but would welcome a religious revival if he saw evidences 
of it. 

Dr. Poling, just returned from a tour of many battlefronts, re- 

4 A. H. Gibbs, Gun Fodder, The Diary of Four Years of War. Little Brown, 1919, 
p. 205. 

5 Philip Gibbs, op. cit., p. 553. 
*lbid., p. 333. 


ported in his forthright way that "two things more than all others 
have troubled me, two things that are not good for America. First: 
positive bitterness against organized labor (perhaps I should write: 
against leaders of organized labor). Second, overwhelming indif- 
ference to organized religion." 7 Dr. Bernard Iddings Bell, High 
Church Episcopalian, was reported as in complete agreement. As to 
the no-atheists-in-foxholes dogma, Dr. Bell concurred with the 
opinion of a chaplain that if this is true it is because there are 
few atheists anywhere. 8 A Jesuit chaplain who remained anonymous 
corroborated these reports to the full. Even franker than his 
Protestant colleagues, he stated, "If you read the Catholic press 
nowadays you get the impression that there is a great religious 
revival going on in the armed forces. Personally I think that is 
a lot of tripe. So do the few Catholic chaplains I have talked with." 

This Catholic chaplain, according to his letter reprinted in Time, 
considered that an attendance of 300 at his Sunday Mass was an 
excellent showing even though his flock numbered 900. The Prot- 
estant ministers apparently envied the size of his audience. 

Like other thoughtful religionists, this chaplain expressed deep 
concern about the effect of the hatreds released in the course of 
combat experience. Like others, he considered that the Church 
would find it extremely hard to reach the ears of men conditioned 
by a war of extermination. He deplored the failure of the churches 
to keep in touch with the men who were in the front lines, risking 
their lives. He added: 

"They don't care very much about words, least of all about 
abstract words. Campaign ribbons are going to count an awful lot 
with them after the war, and the man or the priest who has 'been 
there' with them is going to have their ears." 9 Perhaps the ideal 
chaplain's attitude is that of the chaplain of a famous ship and 
veteran of many battles who expressed the matter in this way, "I 
am very much attached to the human race, having lost all hope 
for it." 

Members of the clerical profession aware that army life has 
rendered a tenth of our population "overwhelmingly indifferent 
to religion," nevertheless are prone to regard the Church as 
uniquely qualified to assist the veteran in his readjustment to 

7 Time, January 3, 1944. 8 Time, January 31, 1944. Time, Feb. 21, 1944. 


peacetime living. Rev. Dr. John Sutherland Bonnell, pastor of 
New York's Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, put forth this point 
of view in a sermon, when he remarked that the demobilization 
of 10,000,000 service men will "present a tremendous challenge to 
the Christian church." 

The therapeutic values of Christian worship and preaching 
should be developed. . . . The emphasis on educational and 
vocational rehabilitation must not be allowed to overshadow 
the profound need that will exist for spiritual orientation. 
Inevitably there will exist, to a considerable degree, psycho- 
logical maladjustments manifested in disillusionment, resent- 
ment toward civilians, depression, and a sense of guilt. Spiritual 
therapy available in the resources of the Christian faith can 
accomplish most in overcoming these problems." 10 

Dr. Bonnell's faith in the powers of religion is fairly representative 
of one clerical point of view, hopeful of channeling the "aggressive 
instincts developed in service men," as he puts it, "into a noble 
crusade against intolerance, ignorance, poverty, and hate." 

One's attitudes are the function of one's life situation. The soldier 
revaluates the civilian attitudes of his former self, because his new 
life situation as a warrior forces him to revaluate them. It will not 
be possible to lead the returning soldier into a church and expect 
him to follow the exhortations of the sermon. The fact is that he 
will not understand these exhortations because they are the values 
of the civilian world which he does not understand any more, and 
to which he must be re-introduced by gradual and persistent stages. 

The values that the soldier has learned to respect in war are the 
values of war and not the values of peace. The hardness, obscenity, 
fatalism, and apathy to religion cannot suddenly be dispelled by 
an inspiring sermon, regardless of the speaker's sincerity and elo- 
quence. These "soldier values" can be dispelled only by the suc- 
cessful experience of civilian living; for the veteran will have to be 
"shown" that the civilian values he discarded under military neces- 
sity are ^eally worthy of his allegiance. 

10 Reported in the N. Y. Times, May 22, 1944. 

He Is Bored and 
Rebels, Rebels and 
Is Bored 

A- THE END of a hard march after several days of hard marches 
a Confederate general was standing by the road while his 
weary troops struggled grimly through the mud. Seeing a 
battle-toughened old veteran in the ranks, he called out, 

"Well, how are you getting along, John?" 

John looked up, paused briefly, and replied, "Oh, I'm all right, 
General. I'm all right, I guess. I'm doing fine, thank you. But God 
damn my soul if I ever love another country!" 

When a man, under the gentle compulsions of his draft board, 
gives himself over to the army, he gives his consent to the things 
the army does to him, he surrenders and swears away many of his 
rights as a human being. He determines to be a good soldier, to 
do whatever is required of him. But the man hardly lives who 
can fulfill such a promise, who can do all that an army requires 
of him without some inward rebellion. 

The army shoves a man around, the American army figuratively, 
others literally. It forces him to perform unpleasant, menial tasks, 
and imposes an endless number of discomforts on him. It takes 
him from his wife and children, or prevents him from having wife 
or children. It takes away the years in which he had planned to 
progress in his career and forces him to spend those years on work 
that benefits him but little. 

The army denies a man the right to answer back, to argue, to 
question orders, to ask the reason of things; the army permits no 
discussion, demands unhesitating and unquestioning conformity. 
The free-born American was not born to this, nor was he ever 
taught to accept it. He resents being ordered about, hates and 
rebels against the Frederick-the-Great, cannon-fodder type of dis- 
cipline. When an American is forced to submit to army regimenta- 



tion, he is likely to feel that he has been cheated of his birthright. 

Perhaps the worst ordeal of all is the boredom. Boredom is almost 
universal in war. War has often been characterized as long periods 
of boredom punctuated by acute periods of fear. Long periods of 
waiting for something to happen, lonely vigils in inaccessible places, 
isolation from one's ordinary circles of association and channels of 
communication, the drudgery of routine tasks, the want of incen- 
tive, the absence of stimulating companions, the lack of recreation 
all conspire to inflict exquisite boredom upon the soldier. There 
is no way in which to break the circle of tiresome thoughts. As 
A. H. Gibbs once put it, "One's mind was tied to war, like a horse 
on a picketing rope, and could only go round and round in a 
narrow circle." 1 

For such reasons the soldier always rebels against the army and 
the wise commander of men permits some rebellion. A good officer 
pays little attention to grumbling, and he does not appear to hear 
some of the unfavorable comments made sotto voce about himself. 
General Meade apparently did nothing when he heard one of his 
men characterize him as a "goggle-eyed old snapping turtle." Nor 
did Lee object when his men, toiling to erect earthworks around 
Richmond, referred to him as the King of Spades. As long as the 
officer can pretend not to have heard such mutterings, he can 
afford to overlook them. The intelligent officer is careful not to 
take in a personal way the common soldier's songs, jokes, with their 
lewd references to officers and astonishingly vivid descriptions of the 
behavior of the officers behind the lines. Nor does the officer inter- 
fere with the amusements of the men gambling, drinking, women, 
or cock-roach races unless circumstances compel him to do so. 

For many soldiers, however, these forms of release are insuffi- 
cient. Such men fulfill to a minimal degree the demands made upon 
them, rendering unto Caesar just enough to keep out of the guard- 
house and not one whit more. They salute in a sloppy manner, 
spend a great deal of time in the latrine, neglect their clothing 
and equipment, and frequently go on sick call. They "soldier" on 
the job; they gold-brick and occasionally malinger. The gold- 
bricker is in fact a well-recognized social type among soldiers. His 
job is wriggling out of work and he is good at it. Sometimes he is 

*A. H. Gibbs, Gun Fodder, The Diary of Four Years of War. Little Brown, 1919, 
p. 210. 


a competent soldier and a good man in combat. Gold-bricking 
under combat conditions may take the form of deliberately in- 
curring a minor wound or even a self-inflicted one. 

Modern armies have a great deal of trouble with such things. 
Minor points of rebellion center about the uniform. Where dress 
is prescribed in its minutest details, a man who can vary it a little 
bit is able thus to save some small part of his individuality from 
the crushing weight of regimentation. A soldier who can wear a 
uniform a little better than the Government Issue and not quite 
in accord with regulations, or a sailor who can wear a dress cap 
that looks unusually salty has won a mighty victory in his mind. 
Such deviations from regulations are relatively harmless, and may, 
because of their effect upon morale, be militarily useful. Generals, 
of course, dress pretty much as they please. 

Other soldiers, without going in for overt rebellion, put up a 
desperate struggle to save some part of themselves from the army. 
As they put it, they want to be able to call their souls their own, 
and therefore they fight the army unceasingly. Intellectuals par- 
ticularly tend to engage in this kind of spiritual sabotage, for 
which reason they are usually not good soldiers. These rebels for 
their souls' sake are actually very poor psychologists. A man can 
save more of himself by giving way completely to the military 
machine and thus winning concessions for good behavior than by 
forever fighting against it. Over-conformity is easier than under- 
conformity and may serve exactly the same purpose. 2 

Boredom Comes from Frustration 

The boredom of war is one of the things men rebel against, one 
of the chief complaints against a military experience. Boredom is 
something to rebel against, but it is more than that: boredom is 
rebellion. Boredom is an unsuppressible, un-put-down-able mutiny, 
the most damaging form of resistance to authority. Boredom is the 
great social force before which all compulsion fails. Strangely, bore- 

2 A veteran who has seen hard service once explained how he had avoided any 
feeling of conflict between himself and the army. He said, "I just did what I was 
supposed to do before anybody could order me to do it. I knew the bugle would blow 
at six o'clock and wake me and I would have to get up and I would resent it. So I 
just got up five minutes early and everything was fine." In this way he not only 
avoided conflict, but preserved the illusion of spontaneous behavior. 


dom, or ennui, has received little attention from the sociologists 
and psychologists, and there is, apparently, not even a familiar 
essay on the subject comparable to Stevenson's On Falling In Love. 
Ennui is the rebellion of the human soul against regimentation. 
It sets the limits beyond which the individual cannot go in con- 
forming to external compulsion. It is the curse of institutions, 
flourishing always in armies, prisons, schools, and churches. It 
afflicts many marriages. Hans Gross, the great criminal psychologist, 
even regarded it as one cause of crime. 

Boredom is an automatic, uncontrollable reaction to frustration. 
The mental state of boredom is characterized by an apathy toward 
the stimuli of the current situation, by mild repugnance to the 
situation and by a psychic withdrawal from it. There is involved 
in it a desire to be somewhere else and to do something different, 
to escape from the boring stimuli; often it produces a restless turn- 
ing from one boring situation to another. Boredom is a recognizable 
mental state, but though every one knows what it is many people 
cannot easily distinguish it from mild anger or disgust, and in fact 
mild anger or disgust, if there is no means of escape from them, 
may be an element in ennui. In ordinary life, the boring person is 
the one who overwhelms us with his undisguised vanity, the egotist, 
who has sometimes been denned as the person who talks about 
himself when you want to talk about yourself. 

Two kinds of boredom may be distinguished, introverted and 
extraverted. The introvert is bored when the external world im- 
poses itself upon his mind in a manner alien to his own inner 
desires. The extravert is bored when he has nothing outside him- 
self to occupy his mind. The extravert is bored when he is alone, 
the introvert, more often, when he is in company. Persons who 
experience protracted periods of boredom unfailingly reveal some 
deep-lying frustration. They want to get married, and cannot; or 
they want to get a divorce or go to college or quit their jobs, and 
cannot. Boredom, with its consequent apathy and inability to con- 
form to the demands of the external world, is subject to only a 
slight degree of control on the part of the person who suffers it; 
only within narrow limits can the individual help being bored. 
It is subject to much external control by other individuals; to bore 
others acceptably, as in school or church, or not to bore them, may 
be made the basis of a career. 


He Devises Ways of Escaping from Boredom 

Prison officials are familiar with a state of mind in which, as a 
result of extreme ennui, a man reacts in a habitized, stylized fashion 
to his accustomed environment, but actually dwells continually 
in his phantasies. He goes through all the outward motions of 
prison life but his mind is not in it; he is barely conscious of the 
external world. Rebelling no more in his overt behavior, he lives 
in his beautiful dreams. Such a man is said to be "prisonized," to 
have "prison-stupor," to be "stir-crazy." Probably few prisoners 
avoid a touch of this disease. Similar reactions appear in the army, 
and soldiers with their customary taxonomic ingenuity have in- 
vented many descriptive terms. A man may become "barrack- 
wacky;" on the North African desert he is "lurgy-lurgy" or "sand- 
happy;" in Iceland or Greenland he is "glacier-happy." The 
mechanism is the same in all cases: Reality has become intolerable 
and the individual has taken refuge in phantasy. 

The attempt to find relief from boredom motivates much of our 
behavior in civilian as well as military life. To escape boredom 
civilians go to the theatre, play cards or chess, take trips, read 
books, get drunk, change wives, or do any of a thousand wise or 
foolish things. Soldiers have not so many resources, but they do 
the best they can with what they have. They gamble, for that is 
the "proper use" of money, and the winner goes on a spree. Thej 
fight among themselves. They spread rumors, make up slang, 
compose and sing dirty songs. They amuse themselves with mental 
games, tell tall tales. They talk about what they did on their last 
leave and what they are going to do on the next. They write letters, 
read and reread the letters they receive. They have cock-roach, 
louse, and bed-bug races, and make special pets of the worthy per- 
formers. In every way that circumstances permit, they strive to 
combat boredom. 

Minor creature comforts such as Coca-Cola, chewing gum, and 
candy-bars help to prevent boredom and to relieve nervous tension. 
But the soldier's most important resource when he is nervous or 
bored is tobacco. In fact, tobacco plays such an important part in 
modern war that one wonders how wars were fought before its use 
was discovered. It wakes the soldier in the morning and puts him 
to sleep at night, whiles away the time in the endless waiting of 


war, dulls discomfort, substitutes for food, checks the fears of men 
about to die and calms their executioners, and helps the grave- 
diggers to overcome their repulsions. Tobacco may not do any of 
these things, but men use it for such purposes and a thousand 
others. Little is known about the physiological effects of tobacco 
and no more about the psychological. We do know that its use 
among soldiers is almost universal and that soldiers prescribe it for 
themselves in such situations as those described. In some strange 
way it helps to overcome the frustrations of the military way of 
life and substitutes for the comforts of home. Without tobacco 
man's experience of war would be very different. 

Probably more than any other soldiers, prisoners of war suffer 
from ennui. Soldiers, as Paul Cohen-Portheim puts it, lead a danger- 
ous and a terrible life, prisoners a helpless and a useless one. 8 
A prisoner realizes that his sufferings are useless and futile; there is 
no point in them at all. There have been plenty of horrors in the 
prison camps of the past, and there are plenty today; there is 
brutality, thieving, murder, starvation. Boredom remains one of 
the greatest horrors, and imprisoned men fight it as best they can. 
When they fail, as they must often do, they develop the maladie du 
fil de fer barbele, the barbed-wire sickness, which is prison stupor by 
another name. 

3 Paul Cohen-Portheim, Time Stood Still, 1914-1918. Dutton, 1932, p. 83. 

When Peace 

Breaks Out, 

The Army Collapses 

WHEN peace or armistice comes, the military machine falls 
apart. If, as the saying goes, "war raises hell with an army," 
then peace is all but indescribable. A modern army is 
assembled for a specific purpose, and the instant that purpose is 
accomplished the soldiers want to go home. 

A story now current illustrates a widespread attitude. Two 
soldiers, a sergeant and a private, were being tried for gross insub- 
ordination. It seemed that at an inspection the two of them had 
kicked a general. The sergeant gave his explanation first: 

"It was just a bit of reflex action, and no offence was intended. 
I have a very sensitive toe, and when someone steps on it my leg 
automatically kicks out and I can't help it. Just as the general was 
passing me, somebody stepped on my toe, and my foot went out 
and hit the general. I didn't intend any disrespect." 

The judge turned to the private, "And what is your explana- 

"Well, sir," said the private, "My action was due to a mistake. 
I just happened to look up and see the sergeant kicking the 
general, and I thought the war was over I" 

The Soldier Thinks the Army's Job Is Done 

Peace always seems to come suddenly. As the soldier sees it, 
the terrible enemy disappears all at once, and with him disappears 
the army's reason for existance. The soldier does not realize that 
it is necessary to keep an army in being in order to win the respect 
of one's allies, he does not understand by what a devious route 
diplomacy must travel from a state of war to a state of peace; he 
cannot comprehend why the routines of demobilization are so long- 



drawn out and tedious. He gives his consent to the submerging of 
his personality in the military machine no longer. 

Morale in an army, a football team, a gang, a nation at war, 
a school, a prison is merely an adjustment of the wishes of the 
individual to the purposes of the group. The purpose of the army 
is to fight a war. The soldier submits to the army regime because 
he concurs in that purpose. He identifies himself with the army and 
its cause, hates the enemy, and loses himself in the mystic solidarity 
of his fellows; he gives his assent to being regimented and the army 
does the rest. When war ends, there is no point in being a soldier 
any longer. Hence, he ceases to give the basic assent upon which 
the army maintains its system of compulsions. 

A World War I sergeant has supplied the following account of 
what happened at Camp Gordon (Atlanta, Georgia) when peace 
broke out in November, 1918: 

The first noticeable relaxation of morale occurred with the 
false armistice. It seemed obvious to the men that the officers 
had been ordered to bear down on discipline. The men were 
apathetic in drill, and in barracks they varied between being 
very talkative about peace and extremely dull and moody. 

At the news of the real armistice there was wild confusion. 
Everybody cheered and said, in effect, "to hell with duty." 
There were two or three days of celebration and of marching 
in town. Then an attempt was made to return the camp to 
the former discipline. 

The enlisted men didn't change noticeably for about two or 
three weeks; and then orders began to come from headquarters 
to the effect that morale officers had been appointed. This gave 
rise to the first great change. These officers were looked upon 
as a sort of boy-scout organization. The men made ribald jokes 
about the morale officers and there was frequent talk of "going 
over the hill." 

The next step occurred when the men were ordered to turn 
in their rifles and side-arms. The men didn't mind this at all. 
They were given wooden guns to drill with in some cases, and 
in other cases they were taken out to close-order drill. At each 
rest period on the field, more and more men disappeared they 
went back to the barracks to sleep or they went to the canteen 
to eat ice cream or drink pop. As time went on, it became the 
habit for most of a company to disappear after the first rest 
period. Drill was more or less given up. 


There was a great deal of growling about staying in camp 
though the war was over. Some entertainments were arranged 
for the men, but these things didn't change the general attitude 
of "to hell with it, let's go home!" 

Shortly, orders were given to disband regiments and transfer 
them to the depot brigade. Most of the men transferred 
reported for rations and quarters, but they were told that the 
area was jammed and to go and find a place in an empty 
barracks. Empty officers' quarters were taken first, and then the 
overflow went to empty barracks. Instead of going to the depot 
brigade for rations, men circulated from kitchen to kitchen 
where there were accumulated mess funds, and they ate in 
these kitchens whenever possible. When not possible, they went 
to the depot brigade. 

A desultory period followed when headquarters selected men 
to duty in the discharge of casual troops [unassigned]. Men 
were discharged quickly to make room for these casuals, most 
of whom were colored work battalions from places like Bordeau 
and Brest. Heavily infected with venereal diseases, these men 
were reported to the general hospitals for treatment before 
discharge. They were very impatient and didn't respond to 
the argument that this hospitalization was being ordered for 
their own good. 

More and more confusion and aimlessness followed because 
the troops that had been in the camp did not have fixed rou- 
tines or quarters. Passes were handed out freely and morale 
officers weren't heard of anymore. 

This confusion and dissatisfaction continued until we 
were all discharged. I was discharged three months after 
November 11. 

The writer of the account adds, significantly: "Note that once the 
arms were taken away, it was hopeless to try to maintain morale. 
A soldier deprived of his arms feels that he has been returned to 
the status of a rookie." 

At the end of the war, the sense of struggling for a cause dis- 
appears; in all probability the meaning of the struggle is destroyed 
in the post-war bickerings of allies. Such things damage the soli- 
darity of the army, if they do not destroy it altogether. Discipline 
decays. The men grow careless in appearance and make a point 
of not saluting. Military offences multiply. The soldiers rarely get 
what has been promised to them; people have not been careful, 


during the war years, to be literally exact in their promises to 
soldiers. Soldiers suspect the motives of those who desire to keep 
them in the army; each one who remains under arms resents the 
fact that others are being released and are grabbing the few avail- 
able jobs. Parents and friends join the soldiers in this resentment 
and build up political pressure to get the boys out of the army. 

Soldiers have told in many ways of this debacle of the military 
spirit. As one veteran of the A.E.F. of 1918 put it, "When the peace 
came the soldiers at the front felt as though we were let down, like 
a man feels when he's lost everything. Before it came, I always 
pictured that the joy and happiness would be so very great that it 
would be beyond human power to live through it. And then when 
it came we felt almost sad." This sort of reaction has not been at 
all unusual with American armies. Our saddest army at war's end 
was probably the Revolutionary army, which was in such a serious 
mental state that the news of the end of the war was almost sup- 
pressed. Unpaid for months and years, underfed and ill-clothed 
during the entire war, cheated and wronged at every turn, the 
soldiers who won the Revolution had a right to be discontented 
if ever men had. 

Victory celebrations do not help the malady. The greatest cele- 
brations are for civilians; civilians are able to delight in the joys 
of the victory which they did little to gain, and then immediately 
turn their minds to the things of peace. But the soldiers are still 
in the army, still dirty, lousy and uncomfortable. And with every 
step on the "tortuous, narrow path to home" the soldier grows 
more and more impatient. 

Society Changes 
While the Soldier 
Is at War 

THE boy who comes back from the wars is not the same boy who 
went away, and the society to which he returns is not the one 
he left behind. The most important changes in the soldier are 
those of personality that have taken place in his own mind. The 
soldier-turned-veteran is such a man as army living has made him. 
And while he has been living in the peculiar world of the army, 
while he has been cut off from his accustomed world, while he 
has been isolated, great currents of social change have swept through 
the home-land. The fact that the soldier has lost touch with the 
rest of the nation at a time of rapid change contributes heavily 
to the problem of reassimilating him into his former world. 

While the nature of wartime change in society is well-known, it 
is perhaps worth while to pass them before our eyes in rapid 
rehearsal, paying particular attention to those changes that affect 
the soldier's prospect of readjustment. 

The effects of war upon the economic system are devastating. 
In modern wars, certainly one-half and possibly two-thirds of the 
national income may be devoted to the purposes of combat. When 
one reflects that in time of peace the national income is only just 
sufficient to furnish the barest living to large sections of the popula- 
tion, it becomes clear that widespread poverty is an inevitable con- 
comitant of the wastes of war, in spite of any increases in national 
income during war. There soon arises a shortage of goods and of 
labor. The labor shortage draws large numbers of women into 
industry, and opens many doors to Negroes and other under- 
privileged groups. Money in the hands of many new war workers 
helps to unsettle price schedules. Some degree of inflation there 
necessarily is, with its inevitable effects upon fixed incomes, savings, 



and the relations of borrowers and lenders. Rising prices produce 
labor troubles; there are strikes and work stoppages. Consumption, 
instead of being encouraged, is controlled by various rationing 
schemes. The strain of war also produces deterioration of capital 
goods, through manpower shortages, material shortages or sheer 
neglect forcing the railroads to allow their roadbeds and rolling 
stock to fall into disrepair and the farmer to neglect his fences. 

War Takes Over the Economic System 

In the economic changes of war, it is probable that the service 
man and his family have fared badly. The soldier's wages are low, 
and allowances for his dependents are meager in the extreme. On 
his return home, the soldier finds that his economic status is inferior 
to that of persons who did not go to war. The problem of reemploy- 
ment of millions of soldiers, of which economists speak in general 
terms, is a very personal problem for the soldier. Whether the 
soldier will get any job is a serious question, but the problem of 
what kind of job he will get is also important. Though his skills 
probably do not fit him for a high economic status, his expecta- 
tions are bound to lead in that direction. The officer, and especially 
the airforce officer, has often attained a degree of "glamor" as well 
as a rate of pay, which he can hardly expect to equal when he 
comes home. 

In wartime, the State expands its power in order to control the 
economic system and otherwise to regiment the life of the people. 
The returning soldier finds a great number of new agencies con- 
trolling production and consumption, allocating materials and 
labor, awarding contracts, regulating labor relations, commending 
some business firms and condemning others. The State expands its 
power in other ways, finally assuming wide control over the lives 
of its citizens. In this expansion of State power, the executive has 
gained at the expense of the legislative and judicial branches. Such 
things, as we know, are inevitable in war. Nevertheless, the soldier 
is likely to be shocked by the damage that has been done to the 
free and easy, democratic world with which he was familiar in the 
years before the war. 

In time of peace the family is the most important social institu- 
tion. In time of war the State dominates the entire social scene, 


and necessarily does great damage to the pattern of family life. 
The family must give up members to the army, to war work; it 
loses its hold upon the minds of the young. The family must adjust 
its budgets to taxes, and inflation, its consumption to shortages 
and rationing systems, its sentiments and attitudes to the demands 
of official propaganda. War forces a change in the entire peace- 
time system of family living. 

War Plays Havoc with Family Relationships 

War separates family members. When a man is away from his 
home for a period of years in military service, he tends to grow 
away from his family and the other members of the family tend 
to grow away from him. While he is away from home, either he 
or his wife may form other attachments, and either or both may get 
used to living alone. Tender attachments engagements and under- 
standingsbetween unmarried persons are even more vulnerable 
to the accidents of war. While the soldier is at war, his girl or 
wife, for that matter is open to the advances of other men, and 
either may respond. Other separations are produced by war work. 
Many women leave the home in time of war, not infrequently, as 
social workers know, deserting a brood of young children. And a 
great many persons, men and women, get more money in time of 
war than they are accustomed to handle, and in the process of 
spending this money they form habits and attitudes inconsistent 
with their previous pattern of family life. As every social worker 
knows, a sudden increase in income can disrupt a family as effec- 
tively as a sudden decrease. 

Soldiers and civilians alike participate in the relaxation of sexual 
morality in time of war. Wherever men and women meet, they may 
join in illicit unions. This condition is so widespread in the present 
war that a British bishop has recently suggested that all such 
offences be condoned, that at the end of the war the separated pairs 
forgive all wartime lapses of morality, go through another marriage 
ceremony, and start all over again. We may be sure that the bishop 
would not make such a radical suggestion unless conditions 
warranted it. 

In time of war, women leave the home, take up new work, enter 
new fields of achievement. They gain freedom, attain economic 


and social equality, but lose something of their status as women; 
war gives them jobs, temporarily at least, and denies them husbands, 
often forever. After a war, women do not easily give up their new- 
found freedom, and since men are scarce and morality in general 
relaxed, the post-war period tends to be a time of experimentation 
with new family customs and forms. 

Children are neglected in time of war. Parents are busy elsewhere, 
and schools deteriorate rapidly. The teen-age group, too young to go 
to war, too old to be kept in ignorance of it, is particularly affected. 
Teen-age boys produce an unusual percentage of thugs and hood- 
lums, teen-age girls, of sexual delinquents. Statistics of many wars 
in many countries have shown this phenomenon clearly. Post-war 
youth is a disorganized generation. With the returning veterans 
and the disillusioned civilians, these children who have come to 
maturity in time of war give to the post-war period its character- 
istic tone by devoting themselves to a peculiar kind of gaiety from 
which the element of happiness is entirely absent. 

Juvenile Delinquency, Education, Boom Towns 

By these changes in the family, the soldier is profoundly affected. 
His is the age-group in which these things take place, and his the 
economic level on which they have the greatest effect. The impact 
of war upon the family cannot be adequately pictured by rows of 
cold statistics showing numbers of divorces, delinquencies, and cases 
of venereal disease. We must think instead of millions of blasted 
lives, of millions of human beings confused and in trouble. Many 
returning soldiers will be in this group of persons for whom the 
effects of war on the family are no mere academic or theoretical 

The educational system is one of the most pathetic and neglected 
casualties of war. From the first, the teaching profession is literally 
and figuratively emasculated, literally, because the men leave, and 
figuratively because the best of the men and the best of the women 
leave. Teachers quit their profession by the hundreds of thousands. 
In the year 1943-44, there was a shortage of at least 150,000 trained 
teachers in a teaching population of about 900,000, and the exodus 
of trained persons still continues, while the teacher-training schools 
can supply only a fraction of their former number of recruits. We 


have been forced to turn over the work of teaching to thousands 
of ignorant, untrained youngsters who are barely more than chil- 
dren; small wonder that there is a general decay in discipline and 
a decline in the effectiveness of the schools. The soldier is not 
likely to become directly aware of the war damage to the schools, 
but he readily perceives its effects in the form of the youth problem 
of the post-war world. 

Communities likewise become disorganized in time of war, and 
in such ways as the returned soldier cannot fail to observe. Popula- 
tions move about in great droves, war workers by the hundreds of 
thousands migrating to areas where the tools of war are produced. 
Housing shortages become fantastic; hundreds of thousands must 
live in trailers, and trailer camps in some cities stretch out for 
miles; people must bear and bring up children in such trailer- 
camp communities. The sex ratio of these boom-town communities 
is thrown out of balance, with thousands of surplus males in one 
area and corresponding surpluses of females in another. 

Only with the greatest of difficulty can the ordinary community 
services be made available to these dislocated populations. The 
children of newly arrived war-workers strain school facilities to 
the utmost, and there may be a tax problem as well, because it is 
difficult to collect taxes from those who have only just arrived in a 
community. Churches likewise have difficulty in reaching war- 
workers. In fact, it is often difficult to supply even the most 
rudimentary sanitary facilities to these newcomers. 

But these war-workers have money to spend, sometimes fantastic 
sums, and if they cannot rent suitable houses, they can buy auto- 
mobiles and they feel themselves entitled to C cards which give 
them an ample supply of gas for joy-riding. Partly because of bad 
living conditions, they turn to drinking and to hectic gaiety, suffer- 
ing from hang-overs on the morning after and producing a serious 
problem of absenteeism in the war-plants. When the soldiers learn 
of these things, their anger rises. 

While the community faces these pressing problems, it loses those 
leaders who might be able to meet them. It must give up many of 
its leading citizens to the army and the bureaucracy; others become 
so involved in the conduct of their own business that they have no 
time for community affairs. The decay of the school system reduces 
the ability of the community to deal with its youth problem. Since 


the community must often give up a large proportion of its doctors 
(the nation as a whole has given up about a third), there is a slow 
deterioration of health conditions, with the ever-present danger of 
one or more of those serious epidemics that usually harass popula- 
tions at war, killing more, as a general thing, than die of battle 

Race Riots and Other Explosions 

In the United States, the race problem nearly always becomes 
worse in time of war. There were frightful riots in various cities 
during and after World War I, and outbreaks have been numerous, 
some of them serious, in World War II. "Thirty-four Americans 
died and more than one thousand others were wounded in the 
streets of Detroit in the heart of the 'Arsenal of Democracy' 
during Negro-white clashes the week of June 20, 1943," and more 
than 1,000,000 man-hours were lost to American war production. 1 
Instances of anti-Semitism and other nativist aggressions, sometimes 
taking the form of physical assaults, defacing of buildings, and 
desecration of cemeteries, are part of the annals of the home front. 
Strained race relations are carried over into the post-war period, 
when very likely, they reach their terrible fruition with the re-injec- 
tion into the population of one more dynamic element, the veterans 
returned from war. Explosions in the racial field are closely con- 
nected with other forms of social disorganization, such as juvenile 
delinquency, which as already noted, flourishes in war. It is note- 
worthy that, in World War II, numbers of teen-age boys have 
been involved in the race riots that have taken place thus far. 

The soldier-turned-veteran cannot overlook these symptoms of 
community disorganization. They stare him in the face. It is in 
such communities that he must try to find the road back to the 
life of peace. 

Changes in the class system of the nation are most interesting to 
the soldier, so interesting that he has followed them from afar 
and has already formed violent opinions concerning some of them. 
Our American society is never unified, never a whole, but rather 
a collection or heap or mound of conflicting and competing groups 
that somehow manage to live together. The white man and the 

*A. M. Lee and N. D. Humphrey, Race Riot, Drydcn Press, 1943, p. 2. 


Negro contrive to inhabit the same society by means of a system 
of social arrangements fully as complex as the caste system of India, 
and very like that system in many ways. Capital and labor, Catholic 
and Protestant, gentile and Jew, farmer and urban worker these 
pairs, too, have worked out patterns of relationship, but each mem- 
ber of such pairs is distrustful of the other, and each such relation- 
ship is dynamic in the extreme. It is the business of politics to 
effect alignments in such a society and to keep the various members 
of this band of potential murderers from flying at one another's 

The soldier leaving for war is well aware of his own position 
in this complex pyramid of conflicting and competing groups. When 
he goes to war, he assumes that nothing will be done to change the 
fundamental pattern of social arrangements. The theory is that 
when the nation is threatened, most of its citizens shelve their 
private feuds, and face outward to meet the common enemy. The 
unspoken truce of war becomes explicit in such arrangements as 
Germany's Burgfrieden of World War I, or the Union Sacree of 
the French, or a coalition government. Actually, many groups in the 
nation do not, perhaps cannot, recognize this unspoken truce. 
Capital tries to make large profits. Labor tries to make gains. So 
do the farmer and the Negro. When the soldier returns, if not 
before, he becomes very much exercised about the situation, feeling 
that others have taken advantage of his absence in war to change 
the character of the nation that he has helped to defend. He left 
a society at "peace," he returns to find it openly at war within 

A similar situation prevails with regard to other social reforms. 
In general, social reform is brought to a stand-still by war. President 
Roosevelt has recognized this fact by rather belatedly announcing 
the demise of the New Deal. Some reforms can still be carried 
over by hitching them up to the war effort as, for example, Pro- 
hibition in World War I. The returning soldiers were bitter about 
this, feeling that it was a violation of the unspoken truce, and that 
the reformers had changed the American social order while they 
were away. Soldiers are at present alert for similar moves and 
resent them hotly. For example, a recent ban on Esquire brought 
indignant protests from men in uniform, who feared the blue-noses 
were at large again. 


Civilians Are the First to Weary of War 

During a war, the morale of the civilian population usually 
suffers a slow decline. The war begins with a sort of honeymoon 
stage, an exalted phase in which solidarity is high. People cheer 
a lot and comedians tell cheap, unfunny jokes about how easily 
we shall dispose of the Japanese Navy. Nobody as yet knows any- 
thing about war or realizes that such jests may later be regarded as 
almost sacrilegious. The second state is one of grim struggle and 
high morale; people hang on, struggle, take privations in their 
stride, develop the cult of austerity, try not to hope for too much 
in order that they will not be disappointed. This was the phase 
in which, long ago, we used to read, "Paris refrains from rejoicing." 
Then a stage of war weariness sets in. The germs of defeatism take 
hold and flourish. France is said to be bled white. There is a great 
deal of ill-humor in this stage and the one preceding. The process 
ends in victory or defeat, and the saying becomes current that the 
victory goes to the nation that manages to hold out fifteen minutes 
longer than its opponent. The discordant and conflicting elements 
of the population have much to do with the ultimate decline of 
morale. As Negro-white, capital-labor conflicts develop, they under- 
mine the solidarity of the nation at war. The management of such 
cleavages, therefore, is a fundamental problem in maintaining 

An army does not go through these stages, at least not in the 
same way. An army can maintain and sustain morale better than 
a civilian population. When morale in an army declines, this 
results not merely from military defeat but from defeatism in the 
civilian population. Thus Chambers remarks that it was the experi- 
ence of all defeated nations of World War I that the morale of 
the army declined more slowly than that of the civilian popula- 
tion. 2 It is this situation that gives Hitler's "stab in the back" myth 
its plausibility, enabling him to say that Germany was never really 
defeated but was betrayed by certain elements in its own civilian 

2 Frank P. Chambers, The War Behind the War, 1914-1918. Harcourt Brace, 
1939, p. 118. 


The Chasm between the Army and Society Deepens 

As war proceeds, the alienation of the army from the people goes 
on apace. Inevitably the chasm widens, for reasons which we have 
attempted to make clear. Attitudes and opinions of the army 
develop in one direction, in accordance with their own inner im- 
peratives and the laws of their being. Attitudes of the civilian popu- 
lation pursue a different course of development in accordance with 
the laws of their being. As war continues, the divergence becomes 
sharper. In early 1943, the Germans of Konstanz, Germany, were 
concerned about the attitudes of soldiers. Their newspaper, the 
Rundschau, remarked that the men on leave "seem like foreigners 
. . . Many of them don't speak a word, spend the whole three weeks 
alone, avoiding everyone." 3 

In previous American wars, the alienation of soldiers and civilians 
has sometimes reached extremities. In a recent speech, Secretary 
Stimson commented on the process as it has occurred in this country 
in the present war: 

Suddenly what happened? To our troops looking over their 
shoulders from the battlefields of the Mediterranean and the 
steaming jungles of the South Seas, the American front at home 
suddenly seemed to be on the point of going sour. A host of 
what seemed to our soldiers petty controversies in industry and 
labor, each one of which threatened to put a check in the pro- 
duction of priceless weapons, arose throughout our land. The 
three vital industries of the home front, upon which basically 
all our production of weapons and transportation depend, 
were threatened with, or actually experienced, nation-wide 
strikes coal, steel, and the railroads. 

It does not require great imagination to realize the effect of 
these occurrences upon our troops fighting on those battle- 
fields which have marked our steady progress toward victory. 
It is my duty to visit and inspect the units of the Army, to visit 
the wounded in the hospitals and talk to them, and countless 
letters come to the War Department from them and their 
families bearing upon this situation. 

I can tell you that today that situation, the industrial unrest 
and lack of sense of patriotic responsibility which it seems to 
evidence in large numbers of our population, has aroused a 

3 Time, Jan. 31, 1944. 


strong feeling of resentment and injustice among the men of 
the armed forces. I believe it is hazardous to belittle the effect 
which such a situation will have upon the ultimate welfare 
of our democracy. 

x If it continues, it will surely affect the morale of the Army. 
It is likely to prolong the war and endanger our ultimate 
success; and when those troops come back to us again at the 
close of the war and we are faced with the acute problem of 
demobilization it may have an effect upon the future unity 
of our nation which is disturbing to contemplate. 

The men in the Army see this country divided into two 
entirely distinct classes. On the one hand are the men who are 
in the armed forces. Their enlistment has been carried out with 
the aid of the selective service law, a process of selection applied 
to them by their nation under the sanction of compulsion. 
They have been told not only that they must serve, but the 
time, the place and the method of their service has been chosen 
for them in the light of their respective aptitudes to fit the 
requirements of the nation. 

They are facing a duty which they cannot escape and which 
involves the possibility of death or mutilation. 

On the other side they see that the government imposes no 
corresponding duty upon the remaining men of the nation and 
even permits them to leave the most important war jobs with- 
out regard to the needs of their country. 

Our democracy has been founded upon a basis of equality 
and justice. I tell you that today the men in the armed forces 
are beginning to believe that they are being discriminated 
against in a matter which is one of fundamental justice as 
between man and man." 4 

4 From a statement by Henry L. Stimson, Secretary of War, to the Senate Military 
Affairs Committee on January 19, 1944. 


The Soldier- Turned- Veteran 
Comes Back to an Alien 


The Veteran 

Is Bitter 

And With Reason 

WHILE the war is on, the soldier works hard at the job of 
learning to kill his enemy and to live to fight another day. 
There are techniques of survival they are the skills of 
war and the soldier learns them well. By facing death and endur- 
ing discomfort and risking mutilation and disease and by being 
in the army the soldier gains the attitudes of war. 

Military Skills Are Useless for Peacetime Living 

The skills and attitudes of war are of little value in civilian life. 
Some soldiers, the older ones, can return to their former status, 
their wives and children, the jobs they once held. It is worse for 
the younger ones, who have learned no trade but war. Of a group 
of such men Remarque wrote: 

The smoke of pipes and cigars fills the room. Desires, 
thoughts, ambitions in seething confusion. God only knows 
what will come of them. A hundred young soldiers, eighteen 
lieutenants, thirty warrant officers and noncoms, all sitting 
here, wanting to start to live. Any man of them could take a 
company under fire across "No Man's Land" with hardly a 
casualty. There is not one who would hesitate for an instant 
to do the right thing when the cry "They are coming" was 
yelled down into his dugout. Every man has been tempered 
through countless, pitiless days; every man is a complete 
soldier, no more and no less. 

But for peace? Are we suitable? Are we fit now for anything 
but soldiering? 1 

So it was with the vanquished, but the victors, the conquerors of 
Germany, fared little if any better. 

1 Erich Maria Remarque, The Road Back. Little Brown, 1921, p. 130. 



Who cared for the men who had risked their lives and bore 
on their bodies the scars of war? The pensions doled out to 
blinded soldiers would not keep them alive. The consumptives, 
the gassed, the paralyzed were forgotten in institutions where 
they lay hidden from the public eye. Before the war had been 
over six months "our heroes," "our brave boys in the trenches," 
were without preference in the struggle for existence . . . 

What knowledge had they of use in civil life? None. They 
scanned advertisements, answered likely invitations, were 
turned down by elderly men who said, "I've had two hundred 
applications. And none of you young gentlemen from the 
army are fit to be my office-boy." They were the same elderly 
men who had said, "We'll fight to the last ditch. If I had six 
sons I would sacrifice them all in the cause of liberty and 
justice." 2 

When they return to civil life, victors and vanquished are very 
much alike. Their skills are equally useless. They are equally 
unready for "the savage wars of peace." 

When the soldier returns to the home of which he has dreamed 
through the years of war, he finds it smaller, dingier, more sordid 
than he had ever imagined it to be, and his life within it is flavor- 
less. Something has gone out of him that once gave zest to the old 
life, and there is nothing to take its place. The parents whom he 
has idealized seem strange to him; he cannot find words to talk with 
them, he cannot tolerate their well-meant ministrations. He is un- 
willing to accept his place in the economic world, not yet ready to 
tie himself to the drudgery of detail, not prepared at all to take 
up the sort of status for which his experience qualifies him. 

Perhaps the soldier realizes that the lack is in himself. "The 
difficulty," says a young veteran recently discharged, "The diffi- 
culty, I find, is to regain those lost emotions which enable a man 
to take his place in civilian life ... I can understand now why 
members of the so-called 'lost' generation of the 1920s went to such 
extremes in their search for animation. It may sound like exagger- 
ation, but I actually feel like a stranger in my own home, because 
everyday living in America requires emotional responses which I 
am incapable of giving." 3 

2 Philip Gibbs, Now It Can Be Told. Harper, 1920, p. 549. 

3 Edgar L. Jones, "The Soldier Returns," in The Atlantic Monthly, Jan. 1944. 


The literature of World War I contains many similar bits of 
introspection. A character of Remains phrased it well: 

I sometimes find myself wondering, in a sudden panic, whe- 
ther I'm not in the way of developing great numb patches in 
my sensibility of which I shall never be cured even if I do 
come through this war. Delicacy of feeling. What a wonder- 
ful expression 1 Shall I ever again know what delicacy of feel- 
ing is? I may be nervous, irritable, exasperated by trifles, but 
shall I ever recover that sensitiveness which is the mark of the 
civilized man? I sometimes see myself in the future transformed 
into a sort of invalid who has suffered an amputation of all 
his delicate sentiments, like a man who has lost all his fingers 
and can only feel things with a couple of stumps. And there 
will be millions of us like that. 4 

One of Remarque's characters becomes a schoolteacher and has 
a moment of vivid awareness of his maladjustment in society, cre- 
ated by the disparity between what he knows and what he is sup- 
posed to teach. 

Morning comes. I go to my class. There sit the little ones 
with folded arms. In their eyes is still all the shy astonishment 
of the childish years. They look up at me so trustingly . . . 

What should I teach you then you little creatures, who alone 
have remained unspotted by the terrible years? What am I 
able to teach you then? Should I tell you how to pull the string 
of a hand-grenade, how best to throw it at a human being? 
Should I show you how to stab a man with a bayonet, how to 
fell him with a club, how to slaughter him with a spade? 
Should I demonstrate how best to aim a rifle at such an in- 
comprehensible miracle as a breathing breast, a living heart? 
Should I explain to you what tetanus is, what a broken spine 
is, and what a shattered skull? Should I describe to you how 
brains look when they scatter about? What crushed bones are 
like and intestines when they pour out? Should I mimic how 
a man with a stomach wound will groan, how one with a lung 
wound gurgles and one with a head wound whistles? More I 
do not know. More I have not learned. 

Should I take you to the brown and green map there, move 
my finger across it and tell you that here love was murdered? . . . 

About your brows still blows the breath of innocence. How 

4 Jules Remains, Men of Good Will; Vol. VIII, Verdun. Knopf, 1940, p. 430. 


then should I presume to teach you? Behind me, still pursu- 
ing, are the bloody years . . . How then can I venture among 
you. Must I not first become a man again myself? 5 

The Soldier Comes Home Angry 

The soldier is glad to come home, but he comes home angry. 

In the early months of 1919, the writer talked with a great many 
other demobilized soldiers on Chicago streets. Although he had 
felt something of the service-man's rebellion, he was as astonished 
as any civilian at the intensity of their fury. They were angry 
about something; it was not clear just what. The writer ques- 
tioned many of them, but found not one who could put his griev- 
ances into understandable form. But there was never any mis- 
taking their temper. They hated somebody for something. There 
were angry men on West Madison Street in 1919, and, as one 
learned later, there was rancor on Market Street in St. Louis and 
at Eighth and Race in Philadelphia, and in all the little angry 
knots where soldiers gathered were bitterness and disillusion and 

These men, these veterans-on-the-street, the reader remarks, were 
hardly typical veterans. That is true; they were a sort of residue of 
men whom industry had not employed and family and community 
life had not yet reabsorbed. They were not average veterans. But 
we can best understand the average by studying the reactions of 
extreme cases; the statistically unusual man may be representative; 
he may stand for something, express something that is in us all; 
and so it seems to be with veterans. 

The attitude of these men was puzzling, even to one who par- 
ticipated in a milder way in their feelings. Not one of them was 
able to explain why he felt as he did. For years the writer has been 
trying to puzzle it out and to understand what these inarticulate 
men wanted to say. In order to make sense of what they said it 
has been necessary to find words for them, to supply logic for their 
grievances, to sort out and throw away minor grievances in the 
attempt to penetrate to the great feelings of injustice from which 
these smaller complaints arose. When, some years after 1919, the 
war novels and autobiographies began to appear, they were help- 

5 Remarque, op. cit., pp. 252 ff. 


ful, especially for the verbalization of attitudes, but for the most 
part they merely expressed and recorded attitudes and stated the 
reasons for them only by inference. Still it is a contribution to 
express a complex state of mind clearly, and novels are very valu- 
able in this respect, even though they have little utility as proof. 
Autobiographies, of course, have greater value as evidence. 

Perhaps the reader, in his struggle to understand the soldier's 
bitterness, should start with what the returned soldiers said on 
West Madison in 1919. They said, specifically, "God damn the 
obscenity obscenity obscenity! Of all the obscenity obscenity raw 
deals! The obscenity obscenity obscenities!" They said, "The next 
war, if they want me, they'll have to burn the woods and sift the 
ashes." They said, with a knowing wink, "The next war, they'll 
be two guys don't go, me and the guy they send after me." They 
said, "Brother, I've had a belly full!" For twenty-five years the 
writer has been trying to decipher the meaning of their inarticulate 

Whom does the soldier hate? Jules Remains has an excellent 
answer, so far as it goes. 

If you were to ask me who it is we despise and hate the most, 
whom it would give us the greatest pleasure to punish, my 
answer would be: First of all, the war profiteers, business men 
of all kinds, and, with them, the professional patriots, the 
humbugs, the literary gents who dine each day in pajamas 
and red leather slippers, off a dish of Boche . . . Next in order 
come the soldiers who have worked themselves into nice safe 
jobs, officers for the most part. They form a very special cate- 
goryfellows who are lucky enough to have been posted to 
some back-area town, twenty or thirty miles behind the line, 
where they are in no greater danger than you are in your boot 
store, but play the brave soldier and say, "We in the trenches." 
Those are the men who put in a claim for decorations, and 
who get them before we do. They'd be perfectly happy if the 
war went on for ten years. Never in their lives have they 
touched so many perquisites as now. And don't they love one 
another! Their time is as much taken up with intrigues, back- 
biting and plots as the most squalid of peace-time garrisons! 
The worst offenders are the regulars, the men who deliberately 
chose the army as a calling in the days before the war, but 
who now when we civilians are asked to spill our blood, just 


take to cover. Their fellow soldiers hate them as bitterly as 
we do. Whom else shall I mention? Certain ambitious gen- 
erals, with hearts of stone, to whom the lives of thousands or 
tens of thousands mean nothing if, by sacrificing them they 
can assure their own advancement, or, moved by slightly less 
selfish motives, carry through pet schemes of their own . . . Oh, 
but I was forgetting perhaps the most symbolic of all these 
back-area figures, the well-set gentleman of a certain age, in a 
nice warm suit, freshly bathed and pomaded who sips his 
chocolate and reads the communiques and says: "Damn slow 
progress. Trouble is the Staff's too timid. The important 
thing is to know when to make sacrifices." 6 

Some of these hatreds are readily understandable. Others might 
require further elucidation. But they are all real. American soldiers 
felt the same way in 1919. 

Why is the soldier angry? Because he was the one singled out to 
fight and die and suffer and see horrors. He feels akin to everyone 
who has suffered as he has, even the enemy; he hates everyone who 
has not. There is a famous speech to this effect in What Price 

Oh God, Dave, but they got you. God, but they got you a 
beauty, the dirty swine. God damn them for keeping us up 
in this hellish town! Why can't they send in some of the million 
men they've got back there and give us a chance? Men in my 
platoons are so hysterical every time I get a message from 
Flagg, they want to know if they're being relieved. What can 
I tell them? They look at me like whipped dogs as if I had 
just beaten them and I've had enough of them this time. I've 
got to get them out, I tell you. They've had enough. Every 
night the same way. And since six o'clock there's been a 
wounded sniper in the tree by that orchard angle crying 
"Kamerad! Kameradl" Just like a big crippled whip-poor-will. 
What price glory now? Why in God's name can't we all go 
home? Who gives a damn for this lousy, stinking little town 
but the poor French bastards who live here? God damn itl 
You talk about courage, and all night long you hear a man 
who's bleeding to death on a tree calling you "Kamerad" and 
asking you to save him. God damn every son of a bitch in 
the world who isn't herel 7 

6 Remains, op. cit., pp. 440-442. 

7 Laurence Stallings and Maxwell Anderson, What Price Glory? Harcourt 


In the same play is another speech, almost as eloquent, by Flagg. 

Show him, Kiper. Damn headquarters! It's some more of 
that world-safe-for-democracy slush! Every time they come 
around here I've got to ask myself is this an army or is it a 
stinking theosophical society for ethical culture and the Bible- 
backing uplift! I don't want that brand of Gideons from head- 
quarters. Now you watch that door. Watch it! In ten minutes 
we're going to have another of these round-headed gentlemen 
of the old school here giving us a prepared lecture on what 
we're fighting the war for and how we're to do it one of these 
bill-poster chocolate soldiers with decorations running clear 
around to his backbone and a thrilling speech on army morale 
and the last drop of fighting blood that puts your drive over 
to glorious victory! . . . The side-whiskered butter-eaters! I'd 
like to rub their noses in a few of the latrines I've slept in 
keeping up army morale and losing men because some scream- 
ing fool back in the New Jersey sector thinks he's playing with 
paper dolls. 

It is easy to understand why the soldier hates the young man of 
his own age who manages somehow to escape military service. The 
draft board in its wisdom decides that Tom Jones must go to war, 
and off goes Tom to be a soldier. But Henry Smith, who lives next 
door, has had the foresight to get entrenched in a necessary indus- 
try; he stays at home, works for high wages, wins a promotion, gets 
married, and buys a little home in the suburbs. When Tom returns, 
Henry is still a necessary man in industry, still entrenched; he 
keeps his job and Tom goes on relief. The soldier's animosity 
toward such people is deep and powerful. After World War I they 
were known as slackers. When it was discovered that Jack Dempsey 
had suffered through World War I as a shipyard worker, he be- 
came so unpopular that he was jeered at on the city streets. (The 
fight promoters were able to turn this unpopularity to good use 
by arranging a match with Carpentier, who was a glamorous vet- 
eran but did not belong in the same ring with Dempsey.) 

Not only the soldier, but all his relatives and friends take up 
the burden of such feelings of hostility. There is no resentment 
deeper than that of the mother whose son has been taken when 
some other mother's son has been left behind. And if her son dies, 
she carries that hatred to her grave. There is no way of avoiding 
such injustices except by taking every member of an age group, 


say from 18 to 25, exempting only those with such obvious physical 
defects as a missing leg or arm, and allowing no one to stay home 
because he is a medical or engineering student or a ship-yard 
worker or the sole support of eleven children. We are apparently 
moving toward such an arrangement, and after a few more wars 
we may attain it. Our current draft arrangements are infinitely 
fairer than those of the Civil War. During that conflict, the reader 
will remember, a conscripted man could hire a substitute to fight 
for him, or he could buy himself off for only $300. (This was a 
survival of the medieval custom of scutage.) The Civil War was 
truly a rich man's war and a poor man's fight. These arrangements 
provoked deadly riots, probably the worst in American history, in 
that great European city on the banks of the Hudson never a 
center of martial spirit except in time of peace. Troops were 
rushed to the city, their ears still roaring from the Battle of Gettys- 
burg, to quell the riots. Apparently the riots were successful: the 
draft thereafter received only nominal enforcement in New York. 8 
We have had nothing of quite that sort in subsequent wars. 

Scarcely less violent is the soldier's hatred for that other soldier 
who manages to wangle for himself a safe position behind the 
lines. The soldiers particularly resent officers in this category, those 
swivel chair heroes who distinguish themselves in the Battle of 
Washington, which, we are to understand, is a fierce and sangui- 
nary engagement. There are young men who have secured commis- 
sions in the Navy although "the only ship they have ever seen is a 
junior partnership," who have never missed a meal or a night of 
sleeping with their wives, who yet have become very nautical, even 
salty, in their language and are accustomed to welcome their guests 
of the evening by saying, "I'm very glad you are on board tonight." 
In World War I there were other dashing and intrepid gentlemen 
who wore spurs the better to control their plunging swivel-chairs, 
or side-arms to protect themselves against the hazards of Washing- 
ton streets. For such men, determined never to risk their necks 
during the war and equally determined to play the hero afterwards, 
the soldier has an abiding contempt. But there is nothing he can 

8 Carl Sandburg, Abraham Lincoln, The War Years. Harcourt Brace, 1939, 
Vol. II, p. 377, Vol. Ill, p. 284. The trick, a very shady one, was to count naval 
enlistments at New York City in the New York quota. Thus when a boy from 
the Middle West joined the Navy in New York, he was counted toward the 
New York City quota, 


do about it; the swivel-chair heroes will be heroes just the same. 
These embusques will always win; they will have their safety and 
their glory too. 

The soldier is angry because he knows the war is bitter hard for 
him, and at the same time realizes that for many of the people 
back home it is a distinctly pleasant experience. While soldiers die, 
speculators and profiteers get rich, and politicians make capital of 
campaigns that cost the lives of many men. Workers at home draw 
fabulous wages and still go on strike, as many of the soldiers be- 
lieve, for frivolous reasons. The soldier resents the striker more 
than he does the profiteer, because what the striker does is readily 
visible, and besides, the striker is a man from his own world, a man 
with whom he can compare himself, while the profiteer remains a 
rather shadowy figure. The soldier resents the dancing and the 
gaiety of the people at home, and remarks bitterly that he can 
hold out, he can stand anything, but he does hope that the civilians 
at home manage to keep up their morale. 

Miners were striking for more wages, factory hands were 
downing tools for fewer hours at higher pay, the government 
was paying any price for any labor while Tommy Atkins drew 
his one-and-twopence and made a little go a long way in a 
wayside estaminet before jogging up the Menin road to have 
his head blown off ... 

In all classes of people there was an epidemic of dancing, 
jazzing, card-playing, theatre-going. They were keeping their 
spirits up wonderfully. Too well for men slouching about 
the streets of London on leave, and wondering at all this 
gaiety, and thinking back to the things they had seen and for- 
ward to the things they would have to do. People at home, it 
seemed, were not much interested in the life of the trenches; 
anyhow, they could not understand . . . 

The British soldier was gay and careless of death always. 
Shell-fire meant nothing to him. If he were killed well, after 
all, what else could he expect? Wasn't that what he was out for? 
The twice-married girl knew a charming boy in the air force. 
He had made love to her even before Charlie was "done in." 
These dear boys were so greedy for love. She could not refuse 
them, poor darlings! Of course they had all got to die for lib- 
erty, and that sort of thing. It was very sad. A terrible thing 
war . . . Perhaps she had better give up dancing for a week, 
until Charlie had been put into the casualty lists. 9 
9 Gibbs, op. cit., pp. 535 ff. 


My mental attitude towards the war had changed. Whatever 
romance and glamour there may have been had worn off. It 
was just one long, bitter waste of time, our youth killed like 
flies by 'dugouts' at the front so that old men and sick might 
carry on the race, while profiteers drew bloated profits and 
politicians exuded noxious gas in the House . . . 

How dared they have valets while we were lousy and un- 
shaved, with rotting corpses round our gun wheels? How 
dared they have wives while we "unmarried and without ties" 
were either driven in our weakness to licensed women, or clung 
to our chastity because of the one woman with us every hour 
in our hearts whom we meant to marry if ever we came whole 
out of that hell? 10 

The soldier is bitter because civilians see the glamor of war and 
gloss over its ugliness by beautiful speeches. Remarque's ex-soldiers 
make reply to the principal of their school in the following passages: 

The Old Man's voice sinks to a minor. It puts on mourning, 
it drips unction. A sudden tremor passes over the black flock 

of masters. Their faces show self-control, solemnity. "But 

especially we would remember those fallen sons of our founda- 
tion who hastened joyfully to the defence of their homeland 
and who have remained upon the field of honor. Twenty-one 
comrades are with us no more twenty-one warriors have met 
the glorious death of arms; twenty-one heroes have found rest 
from the clamor of battle under foreign soil and sleep the long 
sleep beneath the green grasses " 

There is a sudden, booming laughter. The principal stops 
short in pained perplexity. The laughter comes from Willy, 
standing there, big and gaunt, like an immense wardrobe. His 
face is red as a turkey's, he is so furious. 

"Green grasses Green grasses!" He stutters. "Long sleep? 
In the mud of shell holes they are lying, knocked rotten, 
ripped in pieces, gone down into the bog Green grasses! This 
is not a singing lesson!" His arms are whirling like a wind- 
mill in a gale. "Hero's death! And what sort of thing do you 
suppose that was, I wonder? Would you like to know how 
young Hoyer died? All day long he lay out in the wire scream- 
ing, and his guts hanging out of his belly like macaroni. Then 
a bit of shell took off his fingers and a couple of hours later 

10 A. H. Gibbs, Gun Fodder, The Diary of Four Years of War. Little Brown, 
1919, pp. 141-144. 


another chunk off his leg, and still he lived; and with his other 
hand he would keep trying to pack back his intestines, and 
when night fell at last he was done. And when it was dark 
we went out to get him and he was full of holes as a nutmeg 
grater. Now you go and tell his mother how he died if you 
have so much courage . . . 

"Mr. Principal," says Ludwig in a clear voice, "you have 
seen the war after your fashion with flying banners, martial 
music, and with glamour. But you saw it only to the railway 
station from which we set off. We do not mean to blame you. 
We, too, thought as you did. But we have seen the other side 
since then, and against that the heroics of 1914 soon wilted 
to nothing. Yet we went through with it we went through 
with it because there was something deeper that held us to- 
gether, something that only showed up out there, a responsibil- 
ity perhaps, but at any rate something of which you know 
nothing and about which there can be no speeches." 

Ludwig paused a moment, gazing vacantly ahead. He passes 
his hand over his forehead and continues, "We have not come 
to ask a reckoning that would be foolish; nobody knew then 
what was coming. But we do require that you shall not again 
try to prescribe what we shall think of these things. We went 
out full of enthusiasm the name of the 'Fatherland' on our 
lips and we have returned in silence, but with the thing, the 
Fatherland, in our hearts. And now we ask you to be silent 
too. Have done with fine phrases. They are not fitting. Nor 
are they fitting to our dead comrades. We saw them die. And 
the memory of it is still too near for us to abide to hear them 
talked of as you are talking. They died for more than 

How the soldier hates the men of talk, especially those who 
prattle of ideals and honor and fighting for the right! An inex- 
plicable attitude? Not at all. Because the soldier has come to be- 
lieve, and with considerable reason, that those who talk about 
ideals do not fight for them, and that those who fight for them do 
not talk about them. The soldier knows that when the nation fights 
for freedom and for justice in far-flung areas of the world, he must 
lose his freedom, his comfort, even his identity for the duration 
of the conflict. The ideals for which he is fighting can have little 
meaning for any soldier so long as the war lasts, while for those 

11 Remarque, op. cit., pp. 123 ff. 


who die and for many of the wounded they can never have any 
meaning at all. He knows that those who speak so glibly of ideals 
have no conception of what the process of enforcing those ideals 
means in terms of pain and starvation and death and horror; per- 
haps he comes to realize that for many civilian orators, fighting 
for ideals, being "alert to the danger" was a very good business 
and a short road to promotion and pay. Perhaps the soldier return- 
ing from this war will be told that few of the really vocal Hitler- 
haters ever managed to get near the front line, that none of them 
ever missed a meal, and all of them will die in bed after they are 
heavy with years. Possibly he will hear once more the bitter jest 
that a patriot is a man who is always willing to lay down his life 
for his country, while an orator is willing to lay down your life 
for his country. 

When the British had won the great victory at El Alamein, the 
civilian populace rejoiced, but the sound of their rejoicing as it 
came in over the radio did not make the soldiers happy. It seemed 
a little premature to the soldiers, because they were still in the 
desert, they were still suffering from flies and dirt and heat and 
cold and hunger, and they were still getting killed by Stukas. For 
the soldiers victory or defeat meant just another battle with an 
enemy who was still full of fight. 12 

When the soldier comes home, he hears his victories extolled by 
an unctuous radio-announcer who has taken good care of himself 
during the conflict, and he thinks that the announcer is just a 
/'cheap chiseller" who is trying to "muscle in" on the soldier's pres- 
tige, and it is a little sickening to hear him "make cracks" about 
what we are doing, have done, or are going to do to the little 
yellow devils in the Pacific and talk between whiles of bath salts 
and a superduper cereal which will help the war production. 

Perhaps the soldier returns to college, and learns about Amer- 
ica's predestined role as the savior of the world from an amiable 
gentlemen who takes all his opinions from the liberal press the 
very best opinions, mind you who can never be quite sure what he 
thinks of anything until he has read the latest copy of The New 
Republic, having devoted his best thought for twenty years to just 
one subject, and that being the best method of cleaning a pipe, a 
subject upon which he expended all the ingenuity of his fertile 

!2 Jones, op. cit. 


brain when the war produced a shortage of implements designed 
for that purpose. Or perhaps the soldier goes to his philosophy 
class and learns that human beings must always be treated as ends, 
and must never, never, never be treated as means; yet he knows 
very well that while he was a soldier he was only a means and not 
an end at all, and as for those who died in the war, well, that was 
an end of their being either an end or a means. 

The returned soldier of any mental level is less enthusiastic 
than he might be about a program to furnish a quart of milk for 
every Hottentot child when he himself has been living on inde- 
scribably vile powdered eggs and an execrable brand of canned 
meat. If he is intelligent, he may begin to question the whole 
species of humanitarianism which leads A and B to decide to send 
C to fight D for the sake of very problematic benefits to E, while 
A and B, if they really wish to further human welfare, have only to 
cease and desist from persecuting F and G. 

And the veteran knows that these men of words, who irritate 
him so much and are so often in his way, could not have lasted 
very long or amounted to much in the world in which he has been 
living. As one young soldier recently remarked, and as many said 
in 1919, "A smash of a gun butt over the head would soon dispose 

of , of him and all his thoughts and clever tricks. Such and such, 

an illiterate truck driver, is a better man than he is." 

One day the soldier will be subject once again to men of talk- 
perhaps he never escapes them at all but they will be men who 
express to him his own prejudices, men who talk against talk, poli- 
ticians who denounce politics, and such men are exceedingly dan- 
gerous. In his disdain of men of words, men who make their living 
through the little shams, poses, and hypocrisies of the world, the 
soldier is more than half right. But he does not realize that our 
society could not exist without such men and that the men of talk 
whom the soldier chooses as his very own are likely to be ten times 
worse than the others. Here, as elsewhere, the soldier's anger is 
reasonable, at least nine-tenths justified, but its expression is often 

In the end, the soldier is almost certain to feel that his sacrifices 
have not been fully appreciated. There is a brief period of glory in 
which those who have done least and come home first play the 
greater part. The soldier receives the grateful thanks of the nation, 


and that is all. He finds himself left behind and permanently dis- 
advantaged in competition. 

How Far Is This Bitterness Justified? 

In considerable part the soldier's bitterness is justified. He has 
been the victim of the worst injustice that any modern civilized 
society visits upon its members. He has given everything and re- 
ceived very little in return, nothing in fact except a highly perish- 
able kind of glory. At no point does the conflict between the indi- 
vidual and society become more intense than with regard to mili- 
tary service. A notice of induction is for most young men a sentence 
to hard labor, and for some a sentence of death; for others it is a 
sentence to lose a limb or an eye disfigurements that no civilized 
society can now impose as a punishment for crime at least it is 
distinguished from these things only by the fact that it is associated 
not with disgrace but with honor. The concepts of honor and duty 
have been invented to make such sacrifices acceptable. What, then, 
if the honor that is the soldier's due in the bargain be withheld? 
What if the Purple Heart or the Croix de Guerre become equiv- 
alent in a few years to the little bronze medal that the eight-year- 
old child receives for attending Sunday School on twenty-six suc- 
cessive Sundays? What if the veteran, in his need, must pawn his 
medal for heroism in order to buy food for himself and his chil- 
dren? The windows of America's pawnshops were full of medals 
for heroism in the nineteen-twenties. 

"It is true," says Lorenz von Stein, "that victory brings to the 
sum total of the State, to the people, the highest profits, whereas 
at the same time it remains forever unable to restore to the indi- 
vidual what it has taken from him." 13 At the very least, the state 
has taken from the soldier some years of his youth, and it can never 
give them back. 

The essential injustice to the soldier inheres in the fact that a 
competitive society decides to fight a war. Less injustice is in- 
volved when a socialistic society fights a war. In a hypothetical 
communist state which would take from each according to his abil- 
ities and give to each according to his needs, there would be no 
injustice at all in taking a man for a soldier. There is, as Quincy 

13 Quoted by Alfred Vagts, A History of Militarism. Norton, 1937, pp. 18-19. 


Wright has noted, a natural affinity between socialism and war: 
"States at war have tended to become socialistic; and socialistic 
states have tended to be at war." u Wright comments further that 
socialistic economies have produced the most warlike states of his- 
tory, citing, among other examples, the socialistic empires of Assy- 
ria and Peru as well as socialistic Sparta. 15 Along the same line is 
Powell's conclusion that autocracies have seemed to suffer less from 
veterans' problems than free societies. 16 

The social arrangements of modern America are such as to guar- 
antee that we cannot wage war without inflicting the maximum 
of injustice upon the soldier. Ours is a competitive society. Every 
man is supposed to take care of himself. 17 It is the part of virtue, 
and almost the whole of virtue, for a man to try to get ahead in 
the world. The essential American idea is that it is possible for a 
man to rise to high position through industriousness, that the 
status which a man attains in society adequately reflects his ability 
and conscientiousness. All we ask of the young man is that he work 
and make the most of his own abilities. He is brought up to be- 
lieve that that is his full social duty. In ordinary times, military 
service is no part of what one owes to the world. In periods of 
peace, we are inclined to hold the soldier in disrepute. We turn 
much of the work of education over to pacifists, thus conditioning 
our young men against military service. What is even more fatal 
is that the soul of our society is civilianism, which, rather than 
pacifism, is the true antithesis of militarism. 18 

When war comes, we take these young men trained for peace 
and send them off to fight. Having conditioned our young men to 
compete and to look to their own interests, we compel them to 
sacrifice their personal good and their personal lives to the collec- 
tive good. They could hardly have been worse prepared for the 
experience of war. We remove them from the competitive society 
for which they have been trained, and demand of them services 
and sacrifices that can really be justified only in a communal soci- 
ety in which each person lives for others. Then, with a pat on the 

14 Quincy Wright, A Study of War. U. of Chicago Press, 1942, Vol. II, p. 1172. 

15 Ibid. 

16 Talcott Powell, Tattered Banners. Harcourt Brace, 1933, p. 5. 

17 Our society is really a competitive, familistic society, the family being the 
competing unit, a unit in which competition is not supposed to take place; but 
that does not matter for the present argument. 

18 Cf. Vagts, op. cit., p. 15, for the contrast between militarism and civilianism. 


back and some hypocritical words of praise, we return them to 
competitive society, where, for a time at least, they compete at a 
considerable disadvantage. 

If we took all the young men of a generation, that would seem 
less unfair to the soldier. And though he would still be disadvan- 
taged in comparison with other age groups, his own generation 
would start even. However, we do not take all the members of an 
age group by any means. We grant full exemption from military 
service to many men who have minor physical defects. We reject 
many others for minor psychoneurotic disorders. We exempt others 
because they have special skills of use in war production or are 
thought to have such special skills and we excuse many others, 
less defensibly, because of the essential jobs they hold in war indus- 
tries, even though their skills are admittedly not particularly great. 
We grant exemptions to some in special cases because of family 
obligations. When so many can escape, the one who is ordered to 
serve has some reason to feel abused. All this, of course, is part of 
the fundamental injustice of the situation. No one is personally 
responsible. No one planned it that way. Draft boards and others 
have done their best to administer our intrinsically inequitable 
laws in a just manner. 

While the man selected for military service is giving his time 
to the collective effort, others forge ahead in the competitive race 
of civilian life. Imagine a foot-race in which a hundred performers 
start even, all with high hopes of winning. When the race has just 
begun, we take a few of the runners out of the race and demand 
that they fix the track. We keep adding to our labor force in the 
same way until we have removed about half the contestants. When 
the work is over and the laborers are fatigued, we release them in 
the same haphazard way, give them our hearty thanks, and tell 
them to resume the race. That is the way the system works. 

While we were away, as Vera Brittain put it, "others stayed be- 
hind and just got on got on the better since we were away." The 
absence of the soldiers and the demands of war industries have 
created the best labor market of a generation. What a labor marketl 
According to information received from confidential sources, the 
average IQ of persons hired by a large defense plant in late 1943 
was in the middle eighties (84) the average IQ. The average 
weekly pay of these intellectual giants, who were also, of course, 


completely untrained, was about $41, at the start, with more to 
come later, naturally. 

What the soldier believes is not, of course, wholly and unquali- 
fiedly true. It is easy to understand why the soldier resents the high 
wages of war workers, and yet the advantage is not always on the 
civilian side in financial matters. Many civilians with fixed in- 
comes, notably white collar workers, have been severely pinched 
by rising prices and taxes. Even the war workers do not fare so well 
as the gross earnings indicate; there are deductions to be considered: 
union dues, the social security tax, the withholding tax, and the 
bond purchases, which are obligatory in most war industries. While 
the soldier's apparent income is low, allowances for his family are 
considerable and are free of taxes. Furthermore, soldiers in cer- 
tain types of service are paid at rates which compare favorably 
with war industry and some young officers, especially in the air 
corps, undoubtedly touch more perquisites than they are likely 
to attain in civilian life for many years. When we consider these 
things, the comparative position of the soldier is less unfavorable 
than the uncorrected figures would indicate, although the net ad- 
vantage is still on the side of the civilian in the majority of cases. 
Furthermore, it is unlikely that the veteran will be interested in 
refined calculations of comparative advantage. He will be con- 
vinced that he has received a raw deal, and there will be evidence 
enough to support his case. 

While stating the soldier's grievances, we should note that it is 
not necessarily the common soldier who is most set back in the 
struggle of life. Sometimes the officer is badly used. Doctors who 
have been taken into the service have often received very unjust 
treatment. A young doctor, aged thirty-three, was taken from a 
small city in up-state New York. He had educated himself at his 
own expense and had struggled for several years to build up a prac- 
tice. He was, therefore, a business man with a considerable in- 
vestment. Before the war, his practice was worth about $7000 a 
year, clear profit. The army made him a first lieutenant at $3300 
a year. In order not to break up his family, he is consuming his 
savings, while his wife and children lead a most unsatisfactory 
existence in various training camp communities. If he had re- 
mained a civilian, his practice would be worth $15,000 a year. 
When the war is over, he must start again to build it up. Many 


thousands of other doctors will also be returning to practice, and 
will compete with him. This young doctor has lost nearly every- 
thing, gained nothing, not even, as he believes, any experience of 
value. If he should be killed in the service, his wife and children 
would be very poorly provided for. 

When the soldier returns to civilian society, he is at a disadvan- 
tage for some time. His skills and attitudes are not applicable to 
civilian life. Undoubtedly the great majority of soldiers manage 
to overcome their initial handicap, and perhaps, because of the 
various preferences given to the veteran, some of them do a little 
better in competition than they might otherwise have done. A 
great many soldiers, however, do worse in competition because of 
their military service. The disabled have been really handicapped; 
and we recognize this and try to compensate them for it. Others 
have been injured in more subtle ways, and it is difficult to assess 
and evaluate their damages. 

In every competition, however, some must fail. Some veterans 
fail because of what war has done to them. Others would fail any- 
how. But all have a perfect excuse for failure, more than an ex- 
cusean unsettled claim upon society. Because they once wore the 
uniform of their country, they feel that their country must take 
care of them. The problem of justice is to separate those who have 
a valid claim from those who have not. 

How Long Does This Bitterness Last? 

As in any other group of people, there is a wide range of vari- 
ation in the attitudes of veterans. There is a core of anger in the 
soul of almost every veteran, and we are justified in calling it bit- 
terness, but the bitterness of one man is not the same thing as the 
bitterness of another. In one man it becomes a consuming flame 
that sears his soul and burns his body. In another it is barely trace- 
able. It leads one man to outbursts of temper, another to social 
radicalism, a third to excesses of conservatism. Much depends upon 
the veteran's temperament, upon where and under what circum- 
stances he served, and upon his experiences after he is released 
from service. 

The veteran is bitter because he has reason to be. After a time 
he becomes adjusted to civilian society once more, and his resent- 


ment disappears because it is no longer appropriate. Psychologists 
would speak of "extinction," and would refer to Pavlov's experi- 
ments with conditioned reflexes. If we ring a bell when we feed a 
dog, after a time the dog comes to salivate whenever the bell rings. 
This is a conditioned reflex. If the food is omitted when the bell 
rings, the sound gradually ceases to cause the dog to secrete saliva; 
the conditioned reflex has been disposed of through extinction. So 
with the veteran's anger. When its causes are removed, it gradually 
fades in intensity. 

The veteran who suffers little inconvenience in readjusting to 
the world of civilian society usually recovers rapidly. If he returns 
to his former job, and is contented there, that helps, although he 
may still be angry because others have received promotions while 
he was away. If his family is undamaged by war, and his com- 
munity and friends receive him graciously and take care of him, 
those things help too. If he was originally a stable personality, it 
is less likely that he has developed an outlook that will seriously 
interfere with readjustment. If after the war he becomes a suc- 
cess in life, there is little likelihood that he will be permanently 

Even in the most favorable cases, however, it seems probable 
that the veteran's anger does not disappear altogether. Instead, the 
residues of resentment are redirected into different channels, usu- 
ally into channels of class, race, and religious antagonism. Whom- 
ever a man would naturally hate he hates a little more because he 
has been a soldier. After the war, the soldier's sympathy with the 
enemy, born of the heat of conflict, apparently weakens for a time 
and is replaced by hatred, although the veteran's hatred of the 
enemy is often less keen than his hostility toward his former allies. 

When the veteran must return to a degraded and oppressed 
status at home, he may become very dangerous to the established 
order. The Negro veteran is certain to be a storm center of trouble 
when he returns to his home community. He will resent discrim- 
ination and the doctrine of "The Negro in his place" as he has 
never resented such things before. All present indications are that 
Negro soldiers are in no very docile frame of mind. Some have 
gone from the South to the North and have had a taste of "equal- 
ity," which, false though it is, unfits them for life in southern 
towns. Others have gone from northern cities to southern camps, 


and have learned what Jim Crowism means. All have been taught 
to kill, and to kill white men. Negroes have acquitted themselves 
like men in this war, as in all our wars, whenever they have had the 
chance; they have offered their bodies and their lives freely and 
have asked no odds of any man, whatever the color of his skin. 
Negro soldiers and civilians earnestly believe that they will never 
again submit to injustice as before, and even the gentlest and the 
mildest among them are beginning to believe that the time has 
come to fight. 

There will be fierce and terrible men among the Negroes who 
come back from the war. Veterans make good revolutionaries. 
They have learned to hate and to kill. They have been shot over. 
They have lost their reverence for many of the word symbols that 
formerly controlled their behavior. On the other hand, the south- 
ern whites, earnestly convinced of the white man's right to rule, are 
among our best soldiers. Less than any others of our citizens did 
they require the gentle persuasions of the draft board to induce 
them to join the army. They have fought in every "Bloody Angle" 
of the present war; many have won distinction; many are officers. 
Veterans and particularly veterans of that sort make good coun- 
ter-revolutionaries, if they believe there is need of a counter-revolu- 
tion. And the Negroes are outnumbered ten to one, in the nation, 
though not in the South. The stage is set for conflict between the 

If the veteran does not adjust to society, his bitterness persists 
through the years. Some veterans are unable to adjust because of 
disability, and it is understandable that they should cherish a last- 
ing resentment because of this fact. Other veterans merely fail in 
competition and in life for reasons which have nothing to do with 
military service; they are the improvident, the unstable, the foolish, 
the stupid and the wrongheaded, the luckless ones who would have 
failed anyhow, the men who never would have been able to hold 
their jobs, their friends, their wives, or their self-respect. Now if 
these men had never been in an army they would have no socially 
acceptable excuse for failure. Since they have been in the army, 
they can hang all their feelings of guilt and resentment upon that 
peg, blame the war for everything that has gone wrong with their 
lives, the jobs they lost, the wives who betrayed them, the em- 
ployers who bullied them, the friends who drifted away. The vet- 


erans who made up the Bonus Expeditionary Force of 1932 were 
just such pitiful maladjusts who had found a good excuse for fail- 
ure. Failure to help the veteran in the post-war years leaves him 
with an unsettled claim upon society and thus facilitates this sort 
of rationalization. 

The normal veteran who adjusts well to civilian life usually 
finds himself thinking rather pleasantly of his war in a few years. 
He never forgets the comradeship of men at arms and never ceases 
to think of it with a certain warmth. And, in time, he learns that 
there are a few real rewards in being a veteran. As a veteran, he 
has a place in society; some honor comes to him because he once 
served his country in time of war. 

Many Things 

Interfere With 

The Veteran's Adjustment 

AMONG the mistakes made by society in the past must be 
reckoned its failure to recognize that every soldier, and not 
merely the wounded, is in need of rehabilitation. As Rob- 
ert Graves has pointed out, every soldier who returns to civilian 
life is still mentally and nervously organized for war a condition 
that requires something more active than the passage of time for 
its cure. The soldier must give up his old attitudes toward civilian 
life and form new ones relevant to his changed situation, and the 
sooner he does this, the easier his adjustment will be. But we can- 
not intelligently expect him to achieve this unaided. Society must 
meet him more than halfway for its own good, if for no more 
selfless reason. 

The Civilian World Is Changed, Confused 

The soldier's difficulties of adjustment inhere in the fact that his 
problem is a double one. Not only is the soldier changed from the 
man he once was, but the society to which he returns is a different 
society. We have seen the profound alterations of personality im- 
posed upon the soldier by his army experience. Let us spend a few 
moments in examining the war-changed social order to which 
he returns, and into which he must now be "naturalized." 

The soldier returns to a chaotic world in which values are con- 
fused and social structures are crumbling. There are widespread 
economic disturbances and disruptions involved in the process of 
returning industry to a peacetime basis. There may be further in- 
flation in the post-war period, either of the boom type or of the 
runaway type; economists may argue as to whether or not inflation 
is really necessary, but political factors render it highly probable. 
Where there is inflation, there is usually an ultimate deflation. 


There is a changed morality in the society to which the soldier 
returns, a very confused morality. Moral standards have partially 
adjusted to the changed situation but they remain unclear and 
confused on many points. Those who came to maturity in the pre- 
war period are subject to severe conflicts in this regard. A genera- 
tion of post-war youth grows up with the wartime morality and 
escapes the conflict by flaunting many features of conventional 
morality. The crime rate is usually high in the post-war period. 

The struggle between social classes, as well as between racial and 
religious groups, is bitter and intense. Wartime gains in many 
fields, such as labor and the status of minorities, are often largely 
lost in post-war reaction. Chaotic economic conditions make either 
revolution or reaction possible. Frequently, liberals are thoroughly 
discredited by the end of the war, and the backbone of liberalism 
is broken. 

Curtailed civil liberties usually remain as a reminder of wartime 
solidarity. 1 Individuals voluntarily give up many of their liberties 
in time of war; at least they make no objection when the rights of 
free speech and free assemblage and the freedom of the press are 
abolished and such safeguards as the writ of habeas corpus sus- 
pended. Silent leges inter arma the laws are silent in the midst of 
war. In the confused period following a war, it seems impossible 
to restore these rights at once. It is a matter of years before courts 
and legislators return to their usual procedures. 

The chaos of a post-war period is almost indescribable. In 1920 
James Westfall Thompson felt that the age might justly be com- 
pared with the period following the Black Death. He wrote as 
follows: "It is surprising to see how similar are the complaints 
then and now: economic chaos, social unrest, high prices, profiteer- 
ing, deprivation of morals, lack of production, industrial indolence, 
frenetic gaiety, wild expenditure, luxury, debauchery, social and 
religious hysteria, greed, avarice, maladministration, decay of man- 
ners." 2 It would not be easy to find a better summary of the social 
and cultural aftermath of war. 

1 While civil liberties have fared somewhat better in this war than in most 
wars, there has been some abridgment, the most notable instance being the 
denial of their rights as citizens to American-born Japanese. 

2 James Westfall Thompson, "The Aftermath of the Black Death and the 
Aftermath of the Great War," in The American Journal of Sociology, March, 


Every Veteran Is at least Mildly Shell-Shocked 

Writers of the present day object to the use of the word "shell- 
shock," but the new terms proposed are equally misleading per- 
haps intentionally so. There is nothing wrong with the old term 
provided that we realize that the state of mind to which it refers 
is not exactly shock and has nothing to do with shells. The soldier 
has been numbed somewhat by his experience, the frontline soldier 
more than others, but every soldier to some extent. He has his 
apathies and his intensities which seem equally incongruous to the 
civilian. "Sudden and quick in quarrels," as Shakespeare described 
him, he explodes and blows his top at unexpected moments, but 
often fails to react at all when he is expected to do so. He pro- 
crastinates concerning things that he ought to do at once and is in 
a tearing rush about things that necessarily take time. He is well 
aware that he is not emotionally in tune with his environment. 
The best and quickest way to describe his condition is to say that 
he is mildly shell-shocked, and the safest rule is to expect all sol- 
diers to display these aberrations in some degree. 

I was still mentally and nervously organized for war; shells 
used to come bursting on my bed at mid-night even when 
Nancy was sharing it with me; strangers in day-time would 
assume the faces of friends who had been killed. When I was 
strong enough to climb the hill behind Harlech and revisit 
my favorite country I found that I could only see it as a pros- 
pective battle-field. I would find myself working out tactical 
problems, planning how I would hold the Northern Artro val- 
ley against an attack from the sea ... I still had the army habit 
of commandeering anything of uncertain ownership that I 
found lying about; also a difficulty in telling the truth it was 
always easier for me now when overtaken in any fault to lie 
my way out . . . And other loose habits of war-time survived, 
such as stopping passing motorists for a lift, talking without 
embarrassment to my fellow-travelers in railway carriages, and 
unbuttoning by the roadside without shame, whoever was 
about. And I retained the technique of endurance, a brutal 
persistence in seeing things through. 3 

We had pictured it all otherwise. We thought that with one 
accord a rich, intense existence must now set in, one full of the 

3 Robert Graves, Goodbye to All That. London, Jonathan Cape, 1929, p. 352. 


joy of life regained and so we had meant to begin. But the 
days and the weeks fly away under our hands, we squander 
them on inconsiderable and vain things, and when we look 
around nothing is done. We were accustomed to think swiftly, 
to act on the instant another minute and all might be out for- 
ever. So life is now too slow for us; we jump at it, shake it, 
and before it can speak or resound we have already let go 
again. We had Death too long for companion; he was a swift 
player and every second the stakes touched the limit. It is 
this that has made us so fickle, so impatient, so bent upon the 
things of the moment; this that now leaves us so empty, be- 
cause here it has no place. And this emptiness makes us rest- 
less; we feel that people do not understand us, that mere love 
cannot help us. For there is an unbridged gulf fixed between 
soldiers and non-soldiers. We must fend for ourselves. 4 

I returned to Canada in February, 1919, on a troopship car- 
rying six thousand men among whom were a few thousand 
minor casualties. We disembarked at Quebec, in a subzero 
temperature. Immediately upon stepping ashore, we were drawn 
up in parade formation on the landing quays because the 
Duke of Devonshire who was Governor General of Canada that 
year had made a special journey down from Ottawa to wel- 
come us home. After letting us wait for two hours in a fierce 
cold, His Excellency and his aides finally drew up in a string 
of gleaming limousines. The officials were dressed in gorgeous 
blue uniforms with black fur collars. With this gala dress 
went astrakhan bonnets, polished riding boots and swords. We 
were called to "attention," and as the party of dignitaries 
slowly advanced toward us, their group presented such an un- 
real picture of Ruritanian movie splendor that the troops were 
struck speechless by the spectacle. The spell lasted but a 
moment. The next minute it exploded with a bang when 
someone in the rear ranks called out in a loud voice, "Look, 
boys, the soldiers are coming." Then there was no controlling 
the laughter; our officers stormed up and down the lines fum- 
ing, raging, swearing, and finally pleading for silence in the 
ranks, all to no avail. The Duke, a florid-cheeked man with 
puffy eye-lids, pretended not to notice the hilarity that his ar- 
rival had provoked and quietly mounted a small wooden 
platform of the kind Caesar used in the school book pictures 
to harangue his legions, and started to make a speech. The 

4 Erich Maria Remarque, The Road Back. Little Brown, 1931, p. 165. 


ranks grew silent at once. He began by telling us all about 
the war, the glory of it, the nobility of the services we had "so 
cheerfully rendered," and the reward that was not in store 
for us. That is about as far as he got, "Your King and country," 
he said, "thank you. And I say to you, from the bottom of my 
heart, henceforth nothing is going to be too good for you." 
At this point in the Duke's address, a crippled veteran whose 
stump was freezing exclaimed in a stentorian voice: "B . ." 
The Duke looked abashed for a moment as a new roar of 
laughter greeted the veteran's exclamation, shrugged his shoul- 
ders, and stepped down from the platform. We were then 
each presented with a walking stick and a white envelope 
which contained a mimeographed letter of gratitude from the 
Empire, with King George's and Queen Mary's signature rub- 
ber stamped at the bottom. 

In the course of our short stay in the city of Quebec, the 
troops grew restless and began rioting. They had previously 
sacked the French base camp of Etaples, bombing their way 
past the British guard detachments posted at the bridges 
leading across a railway culvert from the camp into the town 
of Etaples, of which the taverns and brothels were "out of 
bounds" to all troops, which meant that they were reserved 
for officers only. The taverns were wrecked, the brothels in- 
vaded en masse, and the naked whores tossed high on the 
blankets found in the bedrooms. Thereafter they had raised 
a new rumpus in the camp of Rhyl, which was a concentration 
point for embarkation in Wales. In Rhyl, as in Etaples, many 
persons had been killed. It now looked as if Quebec in turn 
was about to have a taste of the juror canadensis. Dismissed 
from parade after the Duke's hasty departure, thousands of 
men marched into the city, tearing down street signs in the 
French language on the way. Streetcars were commandeered; 
local citizens found driving in their sleighs were stopped, 
pushed out, and forced to surrender their conveyances to the 
veterans. The walking sticks, donated by the patriotic, citizens 
of Quebec, were used to batter in their own shop windows. . . 

At military headquarters, where one returned every day 
along with thousands of others as if drawn by some ineluctable 
urge, officials were assuring the men that they would be prop- 
erly looked after. There was going to be a gratuity, a bonus; 
land was going to be made available for settlement; conva- 
lescent camps were to be established; even broken-up homes 
were going to be mended by marital relations boards. All that 


sounded fine, but I had a feeling, nevertheless, that I had been 
the victim of an enormous nonsense. And not only I, but 
thousands of young men who had been deprived of everything 
that makes for human dignity by their submission to an arbi- 
trary fate; men who had thrown their lives into the scales on 
the supposition that they were helping to preserve something 
precious in this world. All they had done was to clear the road 
for the same bourgeois democracy which had unleashed the 
storm just stilled, to start all over again. While we were 
stepping on the troopship's gangplank in Liverpool, the states- 
men had started in Paris and London to lay out the tinder for 
the next conflagration. On the other hand, I was happy to 
have escaped with only a minor bodily injury. I was going to 
forget the nightmare, burn my uniform as soon as I would 
be finally discharged, throw my badges and tokens into Lake 
Ontario, and efface every trace of my shame and humiliation. 5 

After the trouble of demobilization came peace pageants and 
celebrations and flag-wavings. But all was not right with the 
spirit of the men who came back. Something was wrong. They 
put on civilian clothes again, looked to their mothers and 
wives very much like the young men who had gone to business 
in the peaceful days before the August of '14. But they had 
not come back the same men. Something had altered in them. 
They were subject to queer moods, queer tempers, fits of pro- 
found depression alternating with a restless desire for pleasure. 
Many of them were easily moved to passion when they lost 
control of themselves. Many were bitter in their speech, vio- 
lent in opinion, frightening. For some time while they drew 
their unemployment pensions, they did not make any effort 
to get work for the future. They said, "That can wait. I've 
done my bit. The country can keep me for a while. I helped 
to save it ... Let's go to the movies." They were listless when 
not excited by some "show." Something seemed to have 
snapped in them; their will-power. A quiet day at home did 
not appeal to them . . . 

Young soldiers who had been very skilled with machine-guns, 
trench-mortars, hand-grenades, found that they were classed 
with the ranks of unskilled labor in civil life. 6 

5 Pierre Van Paassen, Days of Our Years. Hillman-Curl, 1939, pp. 88 ff. 

6 Philip Gibbs, Now It Can Be Told. Harper, 1920, pp. 547-548. 


The Veteran Is Somewhat Like a "Motherless Chile" 

The proper term for what has happened to every soldier, and 
not just to the psychoneurotic, is perhaps not shell-shock but in- 
stitutionalization. The regimentation of the lives of millions of 
men involves, as we have seen, some damage to their sense of self 
and to their power to think for themselves; it involves a redirec- 
tion of their emotional life into channels acceptable to the military 
system. The soldier must form a soldier's habits, learn to be proud 
as a soldier is proud, learn to live eat, sleep, dress, bathe as a sol- 
dier, adjust his sex life to the soldier's necessities. Necessarily, he 
loses the sense of self-direction. A personality formed by such a 
milieu is thereby to some extent unfitted for civilian life. 

Children who have spent a long time in institutions orphans' 
asylums, schools for delinquents, homes for the deaf and blind, 
even, sometimes, expensive private schools develop certain char- 
acteristic patterns of personality. Likewise, men who have been 
long in prison adjust their personalities so well to prison life that 
they are unfitted for life outside the institution. Like the orphan 
and the prisoner, the soldier has been institutionalized and thereby 
to some extent incapacitated for any life but the soldier's. 

All such institutions rob the individual of his sense of self- 
direction and ultimately damage the capacity for it. Virtue in such 
institutions consists in having no preference about many things; in 
eating without complaint whatever is put on the table, in wearing 
what one is told to wear, in going to bed and rising again accord- 
ing to instructions, in making the best of things. The good insti- 
tution member does not make choices or decisions. He submits 
and permits himself to be carried along, as it were, in a "moral 
automobile." When he returns to civilian life, his suddenly un- 
corseted soul seems flabby and incapable of standing alone. 

Similarly all such institutions are alike in failing to furnish to 
the individual the feeling that somebody loves him. The institu- 
tion cannot permit such a sense of individuality as life in the 
family normally engenders. It cannot and will not single out one 
child to tempt his appetite with tasty delicacies or feed his dinner 
to him by spoonsful as his mother might. (Spoon-feeding is a bad 
word in all such institutions.) The natural reaction to this denial 
of love makes the soldier, the prisoner, and the institution child 


destructive and demanding, makes them wasteful of whatever is 
given to them and forever unsatisfied in their demands for more. 
In all such groups obscenity appears to degrade the unattainable 
values of love into nothingness; obscenity becomes not merely a 
way of speech but a way of thinking and living. 

Family living, because of the presence of mutual affection in a 
great many families, is usually a matter of living in some part for 
others. Institution living is living for one's self, living without love. 
The institution child never learns, and the soldier must forget, 
those little devices by which one demonstrates affection or calls out 
such demonstrations from another. Life in the institution renders 
the individual outwardly hard, cold, and expressionless, however 
much he might desire to be otherwise. The soldier undoubtedly 
suffers less from these things than the inhabitants of most other 
institutions, because his personality has been formed in the normal 
family, and also because comradeship with others who are likewise 
denied serves as a partial substitute for affection. 

Reaction to the denial of love fuses with the general rebellion 
against the sacrifice of personality values in the Procrustean bed of 
institutional life. For the soldier, as we have seen, always rebels 
with some part of himself against the army and its demands. The 
soldier carries over into civilian life this incompatible mixture of 
dependence upon authority and rebellion against it. He cannot 
direct himself. Neither can he accept guidance gracefully. He is 
bitter over the denial of love, but does not know how to express 
love, or to elicit it in others. Lust, of course, he understands thor- 
oughly, having explored its uttermost boundaries. He is so con- 
ditioned that he will sacrifice for others his life and his immortal 
soul, but he will not work. 

As in all cases where a person must give up deep-rooted habit 
patterns, the returned soldier is restless. This restlessness, as Pro- 
fessor Burgess has noted, expresses itself in random movement with 
frequent changes of goal, in frequent projects eagerly conceived and 
abandoned before they can possibly be completed. As Remarque 
put it, "So life is now too slow for us; we jump at it, shake it, and 
before it can speak or resound we have already let go again." In 
addition, the soldier cannot at once get into effective communica- 
tion with those who have stayed at home, his own attitudes being 
a principal barrier to such communication. The soldier is in very 
truth an immigrant in his native land. 


And So, Is Often Dependent 

Economically, the ex-soldier is often unable to fend for himself. 
He has lost, or never acquired, the skills of peace. He cannot ac- 
cept the disciplines of peace. He is used to depending upon others 
for his daily bread. He does not know how to go about finding a 
job. His difficulty is enhanced by the fact that job-competition is 
usually severe in the post-war period. 

But this man, who does not know how to work, knows how to 
kill. He knows very well what can be accomplished by force. He 
is not easily frightened; he is not much afraid of a burly policeman, 
and anyhow he has learned to accept the risks of death. 

Modifying a little an old saw, we might say that every war leaves 
four armies: an army of heroes, an army of cripples, an army of 
thieves, and an army of panhandlers. Throughout history there 
have been thieves enough among the old soldiers, and a few cut- 
throats, but more beggars. A great many of us have a latent tend- 
ency toward dependency. Military service strengthens this tendency 
and gives it an excuse for expression. 

Let us take a brief glance at the veteran of some three hundred 
years ago. 

What became of discharged and destitute soldiers? In Eliza- 
bethan times, and indeed much later, a disbandment invariably 
meant an increase in the number of highwaymen, footpads, 
and thieves in general, and new dangers for all who traveled 
the King's highway. Something of the same sort happened 
after the close of the Civil War. Whitelocke notes in his 
Memorials, under 4th May, 1647, letters from the sheriff of 
Oxfordshire certifying "that many troopers, Irish and others, 
who had been in arms against the Parliament, robbed all 
passengers, and that he had raised the posse comitatus and ap- 
prehended about one hundred of them." James Hind, the 
most famous highwayman of the time of the Commonwealth, 
"the great robber of England" as his biographer calls him, had 
fought for Charles the Second at Worcester. In July, 1654, two 
years after Hind's execution, Hussey and Peck, two gentlemen 
who had once been officers in the King's army, were hanged at 
Oxford, "to the great reluctancy of the generous Royalists then 
living in Oxon." "They were out of commission and employ," 
apologizes Anthony Wood, "and had no money to maintain 


them, which made them rob on the highway." Probably some 
of the disbanded soldiers of the Cromwellian army took to 
similar courses, but they were less conspicuous in the criminal 
records of the time. 

A more common figure still in the literature of the seven- 
teenth century is the soldier turned beggar. Take for instance 
the ballad called "The Maunding Soldier, or the Fruit of War 
is Beggary." 

Good your worship, cast your eyes 

Upon a souldier's miseries; 

Let not my leane cheeks, I pray, 

Your bounty from a souldier stay, 
But like a noble friend 
Some silver lend 

And Jove will pay you in the end. 

He then recites his services and perils: 

Twice through the bulke have I been shot, 
My brains have boyled like a pot: 
I have at least these dozen times 
Been blowne up by those roguish mines. 

And concludes: 

I pray your worship, think on me, 
That am what I do seem to be, 
No rooking rascall, nor no cheat, 
But a souldier every way compleat: 

I have wounds to show 

That prove it so, 
Then courteous good sir, ease my woe, 

And I for you will pray, 

Both night and day 
That your substance never may decay. 

In another ballad called "The Cunning Northern Beggar" 
an impostor describes how he personates an old soldier: 

Now like a wandring souldier 
(That hath i'th warres been maymed 

With the shot of a gunne) 

To gallants I runne 
And begg, "Sir, helpe the lamed! 
I am a poore old souldier, 
And better times once viewed, 


Though bare now I goe 

Yet many a foe, 
By me hath bin subdued." 

And therefore I cry "Good your worship, good Sir, 
Bestow one poor denier, Sir," 

Which when I've got, 

At the Pipe and Pot 
I soon will it casheere, Sir. 

. . . On the other hand, a soldier willing and able to work 
found great difficulty in obtaining it. Hardly any pursuit but 
agriculture was open to him. . . . Cromwell . . . deserves the 
credit of being the first English ruler who attempted to find 
employment for old soldiers, for the adoption of this plan was 
due to his initiative. Thanks largely to it, the successive reduc- 
tions of the army which took place during the Protectorate 
caused no disturbances, and it was also one of the reasons 
which made the peaceful disbandment of Monck's army so easy 
in 1660J 

The methods of the fraudulent wounded of Elizabeth's 
armies were direct, but effective. Some poulticed their arms 
with a mixture of rust, soap, and unslacked lime. When a 
blister appeared, they applied a linen cloth, waiting until it 
stuck, and then plucked it off. The result was a sore giving 
all the appearance of a gunshot wound. It was noted that 
right-handed beggars usually disfigured their left arms between 
elbow and wrist, where the sore would cause the least incon- 
venience. Another method was to use arsenic in the blister, 
which frequently poisoned the vagabond and did him serious 
injury. These spurious wounds were so much in evidence 
that they found a place in Elizabethan slang, and were called, 
"a soldier's maund." 8 

The United States has raised and disbanded some mighty armies 
but has suffered less than might have been expected from the men- 
dicancy or criminality of its veterans. The panhandler who capi- 
talizes on his military service is, of course, not unknown to us. He 
was a conspicuous feature of our street life in the years following 
World War I. There were some soldiers who periodically pre- 

J C. H. Firth, Cromwell's Army, A History of the English Soldier during the 
Civil Wars, the Commonwealth, and the Protectorate. London, Methuen, 1912, 
pp. 272-276. 

8 Talcott Powell, Tattered Banners. Harcourt Brace, 1933, p. 39. 


sented themselves to the Red Cross for rehabilitation in those 
years and some who still do. Almost every American Legion post 
probably has a few hangers-on, demoralized veterans who receive 
help from the members in one way or another. The so-called 
Bonus Army, though composed of real veterans, contained at least 
a certain number who were accustomed to live by charity. How- 
ever, panhandling and begging on the streets are not the favorite 
methods of the American veteran. His method is political action, 
culminating in the pension drive, which at least has the merit of 
giving to the deserving as well as to the undeserving. 

And Sometimes Criminal 

Sometimes the veteran has been so completely alienated from 
the attitudes and controls of civilian life that he becomes a crim- 
inal. Why this should be so is almost too obvious to need state- 
ment. The soldier must kill, must make a study of the art of kill- 
ing, and overcome all his inbred repugnance to the taking of life. 
Perhaps he comes to enjoy killing. Military experience also weak- 
ens the taboos which protect property and hedge about sexual in- 
dulgence. Many soldiers suffer mental shocks which leave them 
with a form of psychoneurosis characterized by an inclination to- 
ward explosions of aggressive behavior; others are mentally dis- 
oriented in different ways. Many younger soldiers have learned no 
trade but war, do not know how to go about making a living; 
nearly all veterans have suffered some loss of the mental disciplines 
which go with civilian industry. Many veterans are discharged 
with disabilities which interfere with holding jobs. In addition, 
veterans are frequently restless and highly mobile, and thus they 
tend to drift away from the local communities which would either 
hold them in line or make allowances for their behavior. 

For these reasons, many veterans become criminals, just how 
many we do not know, since the subject has never been studied 
as thoroughly as it deserves to be. There is a good deal of Euro- 
pean evidence to the effect that crime rates go up during the post- 
war years. However, as Professor Sutherland remarks, it is not 
clear how much this is chargeable to war itself and how much to 
the inflation and general economic distress that war produces. 9 

9 E. H. Sutherland, Principles of Criminology. Lippincott, 1939, p. 32. 


There is some evidence concerning the criminality of veterans in 
the United States. 

After the Revolutionary War, ex-soldiers played a prominent 
part in the ruthless political struggles of the day, and doubtless 
committed many political crimes. The record does not show whe- 
ther or not veterans were responsible for any great number of other 
crimes. There seems to have been an epidemic of horse stealing in 
that period. 

At the end of the Civil War we demobilized two mighty armies 
which had had a long and arduous period of military service. Abbott 
and Rosenbaum have presented some evidence concerning the 
criminality of veterans in the post-Civil War period. 10 Rosenbaum 
quotes Wines as saying in 1870: "Immediately after the establish- 
ment of peace, however, there was a great increase in crime and 
disorder not only in the South, where conditions were abnormal, 
but throughout the North as well. And a very large proportion 
of the new offenders in the northern states were men who had 
'worn the blue.' " At the Eastern Penitentiary in Pennsylvania 
there was an influx of soldiers in the last three months of 1865, 
and in 1866 an unprecedented flood of such cases. Many of these 
men, as Abbott remarks, were more fit for a hospital than a prison, 
and other writers have commented on the poor physical condition 
of the men discharged from the army. Criminality among the 
veterans was apparently general. "It was estimated that in 1866 
two-thirds of all commitments to state prisons in loyal states were 
men who had seen service in the army or navy. In 1867 the figure 
was put at nearly half of the existing prison population." n One 
estimate put the number of veterans in prison at 5,000. In 1867 
sympathy for the imprisoned ex-service men gave rise to a move- 
ment for prison reform. 

Ultimately we absorbed our veterans into the population some- 
what more easily, apparently, than Europeans had supposed we 
should. In length of service and in relative numbers of men 
mobilized, the Civil War probably furnishes a better parallel to 
the present situation than our experiences of World War I, al- 
though, for various reasons, it may prove harder to assimilate our 

10 Edith Abbott, "Crime and the War," in the Journal of the American In- 
stitute of Criminal Law and Criminology, May, 1918, and Betty B. Rosenbaum, 
"The Relationship between War and Crime in the United States," in the 
same publication in the January, 1940 issue. 

11 Rosenbaum, op. cit. 


veterans at the end of this war than it was in the 1860s. At the 
close of the Civil War we were still predominantly rural, and our 
soldiers returned to farming without suffering much difficulty of 
readjustment, while their cross-roads communities were glad to 
listen to their tales and to bask in their reflected glory. Further- 
more, we had a rapidly expanding economy at that time, with 
opportunity for all. The population was growing rapidly both by 
excess of births over deaths and by immigration. New immigrants 
were pushing the old settlers up the social ladder; new industries 
were being born daily and civilization was rapidly spreading across 
the continent. A soldier who wanted to get ahead in the world 
had every chance to do so in those days. And, for the really restless 
spirits who could never get war and killing out of their minds, we 
had a frontier where a man could indulge a taste for violence fight 
Indians, hunt outlaws or be one, establish himself as "The Law 
West of the Pecos." After the present war, our soldiers must return 
to urban civilization and to the restricted opportunities of a ma- 
tured and perhaps rigid economy. Possibly there will be a de- 
pression soon after the war, when the post-war boom has spent 
itself. And the soldiers will return to a nation facing embittered 
social and political struggles. 

It is estimated that about one half of one per cent of the vet- 
erans of World War I, or about 20,000, served time in prison with- 
in four years of the end of the war. Criminologists regard this rate 
as high for such an age group, although not necessarily high for 
a group of veterans. In evaluating this percentage, which may 
seem small to the lay reader, we should bear in mind two facts: 
(1) That many serious crimes of ex-soldiers go unpunished because 
of sympathy for the accused, and (2) that even where there is no 
question of military service, only a small percentage of felony 
charges result in convictions. We must therefore suppose that 
veterans in prison constitute a small fraction of the veterans who 
commit serious crimes. 

In 1922 ex-service men constituted 18.12 per cent of the popula- 
tion of a sample of twelve state reformatories and nineteen prisons. 
A Wisconsin investigation corroborates the estimated crime rate 
of one half of one per cent, and furnishes further details concern- 
ing a group of ex-soldiers studied in Wisconsin prisons. 12 Of this 

12 W. F. Lorenz, "Delinquency and the Ex-Soldier," in Mental Hygiene, Vol. 7, 
1923, pp. 472-484. 


group of three hundred prisoners, twenty-five per cent had physical 
disabilities of service origin; just as in 1866, many of them were 
more fit for hospitals than for prisons. Fifty-four per cent of the 
Wisconsin group were mentally abnormal. Twenty-five per cent 
were diagnosed as psychopathic personalities. Twenty-five per cent 
were feeble-minded. Sixty-nine per cent were guilty of theft. 
Twenty-five per cent were guilty of offences definitely influenced by 

A similar problem arose in England in the years following 1918, 
more serious in proportion to the total population but involving, 
apparently, a smaller percentage of the men mobilized. Prison 
authorities noted an abnormally high proportion of first offenders 
among convicted soldiers in those years. In 1919-20, 6,461 de- 
mobilized men were received in prisons, 3,411 of these being first 
offenders and only 1,388 such as could be called habitual criminals. 
In 1920-21, 9,580 ex-soldiers were sent to prison. 13 The governors 
of various prisons spoke of the emergence of a "new stamp of 
offender." The governor of Durham prison stated that "men and 
women of respectable antecedents and parentage, in regular em- 
ployment, and in no respects associated with the criminal class, 
are taking to serious crime (embezzlement, fraud, false pretences, 
housebreaking, and robbery) with astounding facility." 14 

At the end of World War II the crime rate among our veterans 
should be expected to exceed that among American veterans of 
World War I. The war itself has been infinitely worse, and the 
men have seen much longer periods of service. But if the rate 
of criminality among our veterans does not exceed that of World 
War I, we should expect at least 60,000 of the mobilized men to 
be sent to prison for serious crimes in the years immediately fol- 
lowing the war. Past experience tells us that many of this group 
will be physically handicapped as a result of the war and many 
will be mentally unbalanced. 

. . . But Everything Worth While Takes Time 

The demobilized soldier has a furious craving to live, but he is 

!3 M . A. Hobhouse and A. F. Brockway, English Prisons Today, Being the 
Report of the Prison System Enquiry Committee. London, Longmans Green, 
1922, pp. 23-24. 

i* ibid., p. 24. 


geared to a demoniacal restlessness. He does not know where or 
how to begin to live. Everything worth while takes time. The 
veteran has long since forgotten how to wait for the satisfactions 
of civilian life. The war has been a sort of suspension of life, a 
waiting for the end until life could begin again. Then all at once 
the butchery is over and he is free. He finds life full of inexplicable 
delays and postponements, conditional successes, qualified defeats, 
debatable benefits he wants to live but he can't. In short, he learns 
that life is will and therefore frustration. 

Real living takes time. It is a matter of slowly getting a start 
and rising to the top of a profession through hard work and care- 
ful planning over a period of years. It is a matter of publishing a 
book and waiting until people find out about it, meanwhile sur- 
viving somehow those delays of print which tarnish truth. It is a 
matter of meeting a woman, experiencing the slow ripening of a 
relationship a matter of the endlessly slow but irreversible processes 
of parenthood. It is a matter of gradually acquiring the hard-won 
respect of neighbors and colleagues and friends, of savings scraped 
together bit by bit, of the slowly accumulated pounds about the 
middle. It is a matter of learning to accept a world in which one 
rarely gains a reputation until he has ceased to deserve it. 

The soldier has no time for all these things so long as he is in 
the army. The veteran has all the time there is the rest of his 
life. But he cannot immediately get the fevered pulse of war out 
of his ears, nor can he believe that the time he is living in is real; 
it is borrowed time and does not count. Having no time for the 
real satisfactions of life, the soldier has to accept the ready-to-serve 
substitutes that are easily available, furtive amourettes with quick 
and easy women, gambling, fighting, alcohol. He feels that he must 
use short-cuts to such happiness as he can find. The veteran cannot 
easily get used to the long hard road to learning, to professional 
success, to marital happiness. 

While he was in the war, it seemed to the soldier that anything 
would be possible once he had returned to civilian life. The blind 
cannot believe that a seeing person could possibly have any prob- 
lems. They think that if they could just see, everything would be 
all right. The soldier believes that everything will be solved for 
him when the war is over. Anything and everything will be pos- 
sible. He is going to travel. Every soldier intends to travel. For 


the ambitious, the most grandiose purposes seem attainable, as so 
often happens when people break their habits and get out of their 
accustomed social milieu. The ambitious will make millions, rise 
in politics, write great books. Others will just be satisfied with a 
moderate job, a home, and comfort. 

Civilian life looks easy to the soldier. It is actually very hard 
for the veteran. There is the waiting, and the starting at the 
bottom. There is the fighting down the restless urge to give things 
a push, to hurry them up, to play fast for high stakes. There is the 
urge to do something spectacular, and thus to make up for lost 
time. There is the attempt to revive one's dulled sensibilities. 
There is the bitterness to overcome. There is the learning that 
the frightened old people are right, and one must make such terms 
as one can with the universe. There is the learning that one has 
been living all the time in the army and out of it, the learning to 
give up glamorous ambitions, and the bringing one's self to accept 
a little dull job and to marry a woman who is just a good ordinary 
woman and to buy a suit of clothes with two pairs of pants. 

The Veteran 
Must Adjust 
To Family Living 

BEFORE the veteran can become a civilian again, he must find 
his place in society and settle down in it. He must get estab- 
lished in the economic world, and he must learn to accept 
the kind of job that he can get. He must once more adapt his 
personality to the life of the family and the local community. Per- 
haps he must go back to school. Each of these adjustments contains 
its own inherent difficulties. 

In many ways war is like a masquerade. In fact war is a sort of 
gigantic masquerade, and this fact furnishes our best clue to all 
the things that happen to our moralities when war takes hold 
of the country. School teachers dress up in brilliant uniforms and 
become handsome young officers; business men strut and pose a 
while as bureaucrats; the harmless postman becomes a hard-boiled 
sergeant; doctors of philosophy supervise the manufacture of muni- 
tions; an obscure garage mechanic or a man from a cross-roads 
town becomes a national hero; the housewife drives a taxi or 
runs a lathe. Everybody pretends, everybody moves out of his cus- 
tomary orbit, in order to win the war. 

As in a carnival or masquerade, the sexual impulses of men are 
released in war. This powerful drive, as we know, is ordinarily 
kept in check and forced to do the work of the world by the most 
terrible inhibitions that the human mind is capable of absorbing. 
And the sexual expression of individuals is watched over by a 
whole series of institutions that punish violators with Draconian 
severity. In war all this is changed. The habit systems of individ- 
uals are shattered and their morality is dissolved. Institutions of 
control lose their power to keep human beings in line. 

There is a great release of sexuality in conventional channels. In 
the period of preparation for war, marriages, births, and divorces 



all increase as in any period of economic prosperity. Writing in 
mid- 1943 of the years of war and preparation for war, Professor 
Ogburn says: 

During this period the marriage rate per 1,000 population 
increased in almost unprecedented degree. This was due in 
part to economic prosperity; but around the period of the 
passage of the Selective Service Act in September 1940 and 
for a few months after the attack on Pearl Harbor on Decem- 
ber 7, 1940, the marriage rate rose steeply and may be at- 
tributed to the war. 

The birth rate per 1,000 population followed, ten months 
later, the course of the marriage rate, except that the swings 
of the birth rate were not so great as those of the marriage 

The divorce rate per 1,000 population increased by slightly 
less than 10 per cent per year, which is somewhat greater than 
the increases in most periods of prosperity. 

In the First World War, after the preparation as such was 
over, both the marriage rate and the birth rate in the various 
warring countries fell very greatly and stayed down until the 
close of the war, the birth rate lagging about a year behind 
the marriage rate. 

In the three post-war years following World War I, in the 
various combatting countries, the marriage rate went up a 
good deal higher than in pre-war years, and the birth rate also 
increased beyond normal in most of the countries. The peak 
of the marriage rate was one year after the war, and of the 
birth rate one year later. 1 

War Brides of World War II 

We have heard and read a great deal of "war brides." Of these 
Ogburn says: 

[The period from December, 1941 to April, 1942 was] the 
period of the "war brides." The newspapers and magazines 
of the early months of 1942 contained much discussion of the 
question as to whether or not young women should marry in 

l William F. Ogburn, "Marriages, Births and Divorces," in The American 
Family in World War II, The Annals of the American Academy of Political 
and Social Science, Sept., 1943, pp. 20-29. See also: J. H. Bossard, "War and 
the Family," in Howard Becker and Reuben Hill, Marriage and the Family, 
Heath, 1942; and Willard Waller, War and the Family, Dryden Press, 1940. 


haste when their beaux were about to go overseas and might 
never return. This point is of some interest in the present 
volume, which deals with the family. It may be questioned 
whether war marriages establish a family or not. By definition, 
a marriage marks the inception of a new family. But if the 
couple live together only a week or so and have no children, 
they can hardly be said to have set up a family. But the 
husbands of many of the war brides will return and the couples 
will found a family in the full sense of the word. 

It is interesting to speculate on how many war brides there 
' were. It is possible that there were about 150,000. This esti- 
mate is reached in the following manner. The war-bride mar- 
riages are defined as those occurring in December, 1941 and 
the first four months of 1942, over the number that occurred 
the previous year. For the eight states, with eighteen million 
population, for which data on marriages are available at the 
time of writing, there were about one-third more marriages 
during these five months than in the previous year. For these 
five months, then, about one out of four brides may be said 
to be war brides. For the United States as a whole, there 
probably occurred in these five months 600,000 marriages, one 
fourth of which, or 150,000, were war brides, or about 1,000 
war brides per day. After we had been in the war for more 
than five months there may still have been war brides, but, as 
the term is popularly understood, the war marriage excitement 
occurs at the beginning of a war. 2 

It is interesting to note that many of these war brides, deter- 
mined to be with their husbands as long as they can, become camp- 
followers of a respectable sort and trek wearily from one train- 
ing camp community to another. The life of these girls in those 
dreary, overcrowded, and money-mad communities is far from 
enviable. They must pay frightful rents and live under degrading 
conditions. They are much alone, many of them away from home 
for the first time. Most of them have nothing whatever to do. 
When they have their G.I. babies, which happens with alarming 
frequency, the children must begin their lives under very unfav- 
orable conditions, and the problems of the mothers grow exceed- 
ingly complex. Whatever else such arrangements for life and love 
may be, they are not marriage. The groups of human beings so 

2 Ogburn, op. cit. 


established, however great the mutual affection which binds them 
together, are hardly families. 

Passage of the conscription act in 1940 also produced a flurry 
in marriages. There were a certain number of true conscription 
marriages, that is, marriages effected in order to dodge the draft. 
In some instances, determined draft-evaders clinched the draft 
exemption by immediately having a baby, which was sometimes 
cynically spoken of as "draft insurance." It should be noted that 
the formula, "Pre-Pearl Harbor father," covered such persons per- 
fectly with its protecting mantle, until the manpower quotas forced 
the drafting of a certain number of fathers. A study of a con- 
fidential nature was done under the supervision of the writer by a 
graduate student of Sociology during this period. It revealed that 
such "conscription-marriages" could readily be found at the time, 
and that the attitudes of the persons involved in them present their 
own peculiar problems, which will certainly be accentuated when 
the soldiers return and the husbands are branded as slackers. The 
little joke of the matter is that practically all the men involved in 
such marriages would most likely have been rejected anyhow for 
reasons of psychoneurosis. 

The greatest release of sexuality, however, is not in such con- 
ventional channels. 3 Wherever men and women meet, some of 
them join in illegitimate unions. In the front-line brothels estab- 
lished by some of the European armies, soldiers stand in line for 
hours in order to enjoy a few moments with a prostitute. In the 
resting-station brothels, there are more conveniences, but the entire 
atmosphere is scarcely less swinish. There are, of course, separate 
brothels for officers and for men. In thousands of other places 
sexuality flourishes. Clandestine prostitution springs up in occu- 
pied areas; women at home consort with prisoners of war; the 
capital cities of nations become dens of vice; hospitals are also the 
scene of many erotic affairs. Sexual expression, for large sections 

3 A great deal of information on this subject is contained in Magnus Hirshfeld, 
The Sexual History of the World War, Panurge Press, 1934. In spite of serious 
defects, which were probably not the fault of Hirshfeld or his collaborators, 
the book is a valuable source. The material covered is mostly the sort of thing 
that does not get into historical records, since the behavior described is for the 
most part illicit and covert. Therefore, the method employed by Hirshfeld is 
necessarily unsatisfactory, but is perhaps the best one possible for utilizing the 
available information. Such books, unfortunately, are often put to the uses 
of pornography, but this one should certainly not be so regarded. 


of the population, becomes a sort of roistering pleasure like drink- 
ing or gambling. 

The Veteran Doubts His Ability to Love 

Among the emotional lacks which candid introspection so often 
reveals to the veteran is an incapacity to love, at least in the ordi- 
nary sense of the word. Love, as we in America use the term, love 
between the sexes, implies a fusion of the spiritual and the physical. 
A derangement of the capacity for this kind of love often involves a 
split between the physical and spiritual elements of that highly 
complex sentiment. The soldier understands lust. The depriva- 
tions of army life intensify it. The soldier also understands 
idealized love, and that, too, is probably intensified by war. But to 
get these things together and to express them toward the same 
person is difficult. Lust, bargaining, exploitation, the trading of a 
quid pro quo disguised at best by a pretense of affection in some 
transitory relationship such is sexuality in wartime. As some 
critics have noted, one of the achievements of Hemingway's books 
is that he repeatedly takes characters who have just such attitudes 
and transforms them before our eyes into persons capable of ideal 

The disorganized man wants a woman. Almost any woman will 
do. All women serve the same purpose for him. As Hemingway 

puts it: 


Vaguely he wanted a girl but he did not want to have to 
work to get her. He would have liked to have a girl but he 
did not want to have to spend a long time getting her. He 
did not want to get into the intrigue and the politics. He did 
not want to have to do any courting. He did not want to tell 
any more lies. It wasn't worth it ... Then sooner or later 
you always got one. When you were really ripe for a girl you 
always got one. You did not have to think about it. Sooner 
or later it would come. He had learned that in the army. 
Now he would have liked a girl if she had come to him and 
not wanted to talk. But here at home it was all too com- 
plicated. He knew he could never get through it all again. 
It was not worth the trouble. That was the thing about French 
girls and German girls. There was not all this talking. You 
couldn't talk much and you did not need to talk. It was simple 


and you were friends. He thought about France and then he 
began to think about Germany. On the whole he had liked 
Germany better. He did not want to leave Germany. He did 
not want to come home. Still, he had come home. 4 

The veteran himself recognizes very well the difficulty of attain- 
ing once more a normal attitude toward sexuality. Remarque's 
analysis of his questionings is typical. 

Drops of rain fall glittering from the trees; I turn up my 
collar. I often long for affection even now, for shy words, for 
warm, generous emotions; I would like to escape the crude 
monotony of these last years. But what if it actually came to 
pass? What if all the gentleness and variety of those other 
days drew around me again? If someone actually did love me, 
some slim, delicate woman, such as the one there with the 
golden toque and the slim ankles how would it be? Even 
though the ecstacy of some blue, silver night should gather 
about us, endless, self-forgetting in darkness, would not the 
vision of the fat whore come between us at the last moment? 
Would not the voices of the drill sergeants suddenly shout 
their obscenities? Would not memory, scraps of talk, army 
jokes, at once riddle and destroy every decent emotion? In 
ourselves even now we are still chaste, but our imagination 
has been debauched without our being aware of it; before we 
knew anything of love at all we were already being lined up 
and examined for sexual diseases. The breathless wonder, the 
impetuousness, the night wind, the darkness, the questionings 
all those things that were still with us when, as sixteen-year- 
old boys, we would race along after Adele and the other girls 
through the flickering, gaslit wind, these never came back. 
Though the time was when the woman was not a whore, yet 
it did not come back; though I believed it might still be 
otherwise, and though she embraced me and I trembled with 
desire, yet it did not return . . . Afterwards I was always 
wretched. 5 

The soldier is often keenly aware of what is happening to 
him, and worries about it even while he is a soldier. Cuber reports, 

4 Ernest Hemingway, "Soldier's Home," in The Short Stories of Ernest Hem- 
ingway. Modern Library edition. Reprinted by permission of Charles Scribner's 

5 Erich Maria Remarque, The Road Back. Little Brown, 1931, p. 209. This 
passage is of suggestive interest to those of a psychoanalytic turn of mind. 


in his study of changing courtship and marriage customs in World 
War II, that "not a great many men are initiated into prostitution 
when they are in the army ... by and large the patrons in the army 
are the same patrons when at home, although the patronage seems 
to be more frequent and more open in the army situation." 6 

Are War Marriages Really Marriages? 

If the soldier happens to have contracted marriage during his 
term of service, as so many thousands have done, he must make his 
adjustments within the invisible but confining walls of the mar- 
riage institution. Not all war marriages, of course, are destined 
to be unsuccessful, but they have their peculiar hazards, and the 
percentage of failures is certain to be high. These peculiar prob- 
lems are well illustrated in a case reported by Cuber. 

"We were college 'steadies' for six months with no mention 
of marriage ever made between us. We were not prudish in 
our erotic behavior though I did remain a virgin. . . . Then 
he was drafted. I promised to write him twice a week and he 
promised to write as often as he could. Gradually his letters 
became more and more ardent. And soon he proposed. Before 
I could collect my wits for a reply he was home for a furlough. 
We weren't alone for an hour before he was pressing the 
marriage issue with all the high pressure tactics I had heard 
of plus a few more. . . . 

"I liked him very much. We did seem to have much in 
common. I doubted that I was in love but couldn't prove it. 
We were both emotionally tense after months of separation. 
I don't know just how it happened but I suddenly realized 
that I was no longer virginal. The seven-day furlough was 
almost over and the pressure to get married was now greater 
than ever. . . . 

"We were married on the sixth day of the furlough. Then 
I received a letter from him stating that he had found a room 
for me near the camp and that he had made arrangements with 
his commanding officer to have his week-ends free. I could 
surely find a job there. So overnight I packed a few belong- 

6 John F. Cuber, "Changing Courtship and Marriage Customs," in The 
American Family in World War II, The Annals of the American Academy of 
Political and Social Science, Sept. 1943. See also John F. Cuber, "The College 
Youth Goes to War," in Marriage and Family Living, Feb. 1943. 


ings and boarded a train for another part of America where 
I had never been before. And there I lived for three months 
a semi-prisoner. One and a half days each week were deliri- 
ously happy; five and a half were dismally lonely, like a 
prisoner in a foreign land. . . . 

"Then he received orders to move and I went back to my 
home community because in his new situation it was impos- 
sible for him to live with his wife. At first I was lonely, but 
soon the exhilaration of being 'among my own' again read- 
justed me. I moved in my old circle of friends. . . . 

"One day someone suggested that I go on a 'date' a purely 
platonic date, of course, with a fraternity brother of my hus- 
band. And the date was platonic to the point of brutality. 
Both of us were so anxious that it remain platonic and that 
there be no infidelity that the whole affair was funny or tragic 
depending upon how you look at it. There being no harm on 
that date there was another and another and suddenly they 
weren't so platonic. Gradually I began to realize that I was 
falling in love with this man and he with me. And accord- 
ingly we broke off the relationship, abruptly. 

"Soon thereafter I discovered that I was pregnant by my 
husband, of course. (The other affair had never gone that 
far.) When I wrote the news to my husband he was very 
disturbed. Though solicitous of my welfare he couldn't help 
revealing the fact that the role of father was incomprehensible 
to him under the circumstances. I could understand him be- 
cause I felt the same way. We had never really been truly 
married and both of us knew it. If we had had a normal home 
life we could perhaps have fallen into some kind of normal 
love relationship even after marriage. But the sum total of 
our married life was seven week-ends in that not-too-pleasant 
room in a foreign culture. 

"Meanwhile I was haunted by my recently discovered rela- 
tionship with the second man. I cannot justify it ethically but 
I feel it emotionally. A week ago I learned that my husband 
has gone overseas. I shall not see him now for the duration at 
least. The second man, like me, finds it difficult to call our 
relationship off, even though he knows that I am pregnant and 
I strongly wish to remain loyal to my husband. ... I haven't 
the slightest idea how it will all turn out, but I must confess, 
being as rational as I am, that I can see many possible out- 
comes but none that is satisfactory." 

This is the essential story of a war marriage between two 


persons, one 22 and one 24 years of age, both college graduates 
and both professionally trained. The case has been quoted at 
length because so many aspects of the war courtship and quasi- 
marriage are revealed through it: (1) the hurried nature of 
many marriages between two persons not emotionally quite 
ready for marriage, or, stated otherwise, aborted courtship; 
(2) some of the effects of prolonged separation for married and 
unmarried pairs; (3) the problems of a quasi "home"; (4) the 
subtle and important influence of the ever potential third 
person in that kind of marriage, and (5) the wartime nuptial 

For the future stability of many of these marriages the best 
prognosis was probably given by the woman: "I can see many 
possible outcomes but none that seems satisfactory" as a basis 
upon which to build a good family life for man, woman, and 
child. 7 

In Cuber's case, the problem of the baby is typical. The love- 
starved, not necessarily sex-starved soldier does not quite know 
how to accept a baby. It may of course be that his fundamental 
normality carries him through this crisis, and parenthood then 
helps him to make the other adjustments. Some of the most 
pathetic and touching stories of the present war deal with the 
young mother suddenly surrounded by a group of soldiers who take 
her baby away from her and tend it for her. Among the soldiers 
in the South Seas there is an "I've never seen my baby" club, whose 
honorary president is the father of twin girls now approaching 
their second birthday. Such stories seem to indicate powerful 
parental drives in the soldiers which will help them to adjust in 
the post-war years. 

The attitudes with which people sometimes enter upon matri- 
mony in time of war are illustrated by the young woman who 
declared to the writer: "I don't love him. I've told him I don't 
love him. But he's an aviator and he says I should marry him 
anyhow and give him a little happiness. He says he knows he'll 
be dead in a year, he hasn't any chance of living through the war. 
But if he should still be alive when the war is over, and I still feel 
the same way, he says I can divorce him and it will be all right." 
Very few people, and particularly very few young people, realize 
that no agreement to permit divorce has any legal or moral validity. 

i Ibid. See also Willard Waller, op. tit., for other cases. 


Chances of Success of Post- War Marriages 

If the war marriage is full of uncharted dangers, it is equally 
hazardous for the veteran to marry immediately after his return 
to civil life. Calvin Hall has demonstrated this on the basis of 
American figures for World War I. 8 The years 1919 and 1920 ap- 
pear to have been especially ill-fated for marital happiness. For at 
least eleven years thereafter, marriages contracted in those years 
revealed a disproportionate number of divorces. The evidence is 
so consistent that there can be little doubt of its meaning: Mar- 
riages contracted in the post-war period are in fact unstable. Mar- 
riages contracted in 1917, 1918, and 1921 showed the same charac- 
teristics in less pronounced form. Hall's explanation of his figures 
seems to add something to our discussion: 

The most plausible [explanation] is that the unstable post- 
war marriages were an effect of the war itself. The argument 
for this hypothesis can be developed as follows: During a war- 
time period and especially when there is more or less uni- 
versal conscription among certain age ranges, many young 
men and women who would normally contract marriage are 
forced to delay this act. Such a delay period, spent in partial 
segregation between the sexes, serves to intensify the normal 
desire to participate in matrimony and this intensified desire 
has the effect of reducing even the customary rationality which 
men and women display when they agree to contract marriage. 
Furthermore, the hysteria attendant upon the close of a major 
conflict undoubtedly acts as another inhibitor of rational pro- 
cesses. There is also a third factor operating to make for un- 
stable marriages as a result of war. Presumably many couples 
anticipating a delay agreed to and did marry as soon as the 
war was over. War, however, is a notable breeder of person- 
ality and physical changes and many of those engaged couples 
who had been compatible before the war were so changed, 
psychologically and physically, that there was no longer any 
compatibility. And yet because they felt bound by their pre- 
vious betrothals they entered into an unsatisfactory connubial 
relationship. Thus heightened desire, post-war hysteria, and 
personality or physical changes, operating singly or together, 
can account for the instability of post-war marriages. 9 

8 Calvin Hall, "The Instability of Post-War Marriages," in the Journal of 
Social Psychology, Vol. V, pp. 523-530. 

9 Ibid. 


Many who do not marry commit other follies less irrevocable in 
nature. Some veterans report turning from one sex affair to an- 
other, trying, no doubt, to discover in the relationship of the sexes 
the meanings that war and army life had taken from their lives. 
"My life used to be full of everything," says a Hemingway char- 
acter. "Now if you aren't with me I haven't a thing in the world." 
To which the girl replies teasingly, "Othello with his occupation 
gone." And so they go about, as another writer puts it, forever 
knocking at all the doors of their youth, hoping they may be 
admitted because they are still so young and wish so much to 

Upon his return to civil life, the soldier finds the system of 
prescribed relations between the sexes in various ways altered from 
the pre-war pattern. The most important change could be sum- 
marized by saying that women have gained equality as human 
beings but have lost much of their sexual bargaining power be- 
cause of the scarcity of males as well as for other reasons. In 
addition, moral standards of the entire population have been 
relaxed, and a very disorganized generation of post-war youth has 
come upon the scene. All these things make sexual license possible 
for the veteran and facilitate the follies to which so many devote 
the post-war years. 

In war, woman gains her rights, because a nation cannot fight a 
war without its women, and, as Bossard says, "When the man is 
away the woman must play at being a man." 10 The strides made 
by women in recent wars are well known. World War I brought 
votes for women in England and America, opened to women work- 
ers a great many doors that were never closed thereafter. World 
War II has brought even greater changes. Apparently, all wars have 
produced similar phenomena. Some observers believe that the Civil 
War altered the position of women, especially in the South; n 
others, that the Punic Wars altered the position of women in 
Roman society. 12 

While woman has gained in one way she has lost in another. 
After a war, marriageable men are scarce and women are corre- 
spondingly plentiful. (A phenomenon which Nature, in some 

10 Bossard, op. cit. The reader will find Bossard's entire chapter helpful. 

11 John Andrews Rice, "My Father's Folks," in Harper's Magazine, Sept. 1940. 
i2Willystine Goodsell, A History of the Family as a Social and Educational 

Institution. Macmillan, 1915, p. 131. 


mysterious way, corrects by producing a surplus of boy babies.) 
The veteran's sexual bargaining power is therefore high. Ogburn 
has shown that a slight surplus of males produces the highest pro- 
portion of married persons in the population; in general, this is 
conducive to conformity in matters of sex morality. With such a 
surplus of females as war usually produces, the market value of 
women usually falls rapidly. It does not take a large surplus to 
induce active competition for the young, unattached males. At the 
end of World War I, there were approximately two million extra 
women in Germany in the twenty-to-forty age group, or five women 
to every four men in the entire group. In France the situation was 
similar, about six women to every five men in that age group in 
1921. Included among the surviving males were many disabled 
who were incapable of family life. Most of the surviving males 
were already married. There was, therefore, a very great surplus 
of unmarried women over unmarried men. The situation of the 
woman was worsened by the fact that she had to compete with 
younger women as well as her contemporaries. 

There were thus a great number of women in post-war Europe 
who could not live within the mores, and a great number of men 
who did not want to. When the women cannot live within the 
mores and the men do not want to, the entire family system is shat- 
tered. The veteran who does not marry has an unusually good op- 
portunity for cultivating dalliance relationships. Dalliance rela- 
tionships, unfortunately, do not help him to get domiciled in so- 

Like the ripples raised by a stone in a millpond, the effects of 
war upon human personality slowly die away. A considerable pro- 
portion of veterans manage to establish satisfactory family rela- 
tions and to rear healthy and normal children. Others never do. Let 
no one suppose that the effects of the present war upon human 
personality will disappear in a single generation. Psychoanalysts 
and social workers of the year 2050 will still be liquidating the 
more remote effects of the present conflict. Some veterans will un- 
doubtedly inflict their pathologies upon their children and their 
children's children. 

The effects of the present war will not quickly disappear, but 
there are things which we can do to help the veteran readjust in 
society. We cannot, of course, repeal the laws of causality; we can- 


not undo what has already been done, but we can try to behave 
intelligently and humanely in the presence of the great problem 
of veteran readjustment. To a considerable extent, we can remedy 
the physical damage of war, to some extent even the mental dam- 
age. We can assist the veteran to get on his feet financially. We 
can teach him to make the best use of his remaining assets, help 
him to overcome his undesirable attitudes. To do these things, we 
must begin by understanding the veteran. The question of what 
we can do to help the veteran readjust is discussed at greater 
length in Part IV of this book. 

The Veteran 
Must Adjust 
To Our Class 

MOST of the skills that soldiers acquire in their training for 
war are irrelevant to civilian life. Some few men learn 
useful trades that they practice in later life. In general, 
however, the picture is one of men who struggle very hard to learn 
certain things and to acquire certain distinctions, and then find 
that with the end of war these things completely lose their utility. 
When the war is over, the sergeant's stripes, the lieutenant's bars, 
and even the aviator's wings open fewer doors than people sup- 
pose. And as for those humbler skills, such as that of digging a 
fine fox-hole or throwing hand-grenades with dexterity, they are 
utterly valueless. 

Men who do the maintenance work and the paper work of the 
army sometimes acquire useful trades and helpful administrative 
experience. A modern army is like a great city that must be con- 
stantly supplied and maintained. It must often train its own tech- 
nicians for certain jobs. Sometimes not very often those tech- 
nicians are able to support themselves in later life by the practice 
of trades learned in the army. 

The specialist in the paper work of the army has a little better 
chance of making use of his army experiences later on. There are 
two armies, the army of men and the army of marks on pieces of 
paper. Whenever a man moves about or does anything in the army 
of men, someone makes the appropriate notations in the paper 
army. When a man draws a new blouse, gets a leave, goes on sick 
call, learns to shoot, swim, drive a truck, or send Morse code, when 
he goes AWOL, when he eats his breakfast, when he does not eat 
his breakfast somebody must make an appropriate record of such 
events. Battles are fought on paper, campaigns won or lost before 



a single shot is fired. The ubiquitous typewriter follows the soldier 
wherever he goes. Where goes the typewriter go the typist and 
the man who directs him. Orders must be typed and an infinite 
number of copies must be prepared. Reports must be filled out 
and sent back in neat sheaves of, say, eight copies. When Sevas- 
topol was falling and the Germans were showering every kind of 
missile including railroad iron on its crumbling defenses, typists 
in a cave beneath the city were still busily pounding out the end- 
less paper work of the army; how men ever fought before type- 
writers were invented is a mystery. Now it happens that army 
paper work is not very different from the paper work of civilian 
government, big business, or any other bureaucratic organization. 
The person who has specialized in this paper work, and especially 
the person who is responsible for the work of an organization, be- 
comes a sort of administrative jack-of -all-trades and has some 
chance of capitalizing on his experience in later years. 

The Veteran Must Usually Start at the Bottom 

Most soldiers, however, must start anew, and that means they 
must start at the bottom. A few fortunate ones can make capital 
of their military career but most veterans must begin civil life in 
some rather humble capacity. They have grown older while in the 
army; no matter, their economic position is determined by their 
skills, which are those of the young boy who entered the army. 
War matures a man quickly, in peculiar ways, to be sure, and at an 
uneven rate in various aspects of personality, but the economic 
status of the veteran is that of the unmatured boy. 

It is difficult for the veteran who has had so much discipline in 
the army to accept the disciplines of business and industry. Many 
veterans grow so sick of being ordered about that they build up 
a lasting resentment against it. But at the same time the ex-soldier 
needs and expects definite orders and instructions; often he has 
lost some of his capacity to act on his own. 

A complicating factor in the veteran's rebellion against the 
discipline of industry is that this discipline must be imposed upon 
him by civilians, and his army training has predisposed him to re- 
sent civilians. The boss, who hires and fires him, writes recommenda- 
tions for him, raises or lowers his pay, and otherwise disposes of 


his destiny is nothing but a soft civilian. The foreman thinks he 
is tough, he thinks he has a sharp tongue, but the veteran has seen 
and listened to hard-boiled sergeants and chief petty officers. While 
the veteran was risking his life for his country, the boss and the 
foreman were having an easy time of it and getting rich. The 
veteran can not help reflecting that a smash of a gun-butt, or even a 
well-directed blow at the bridge of the nose This Judo is marvel- 
ous! might easily dispose of such a man forever. 

Probably the veteran has offers of jobs. And such jobs! He has 
a chance to keep the books of a dingy little furrier's shop on a 
back street. He can work in the box-factory, forever pounding 
little nails into orange crates. He can be a clerk for the railroad, 
working in a great room with several hundred others under the 
watchful eye of the boss whom the little clerks fear as if he were 
the Red Death itself. He can deliver groceries, press pants, solicit 
laundry business, sell subscription books. He can start a little 
garage or a filling station with his demobilization pay and prob- 
ably lose it all. He can get a job selling insurance; he can sell 
things on commission, and either of these openings will give him 
the privilege of licking the boots of civilians. It is hard for the 
veteran to realize that this bleak economic prospect was what he 
was fighting for. 

The prospect of thirty years of ill-rewarded work at a dull job 
is not alluring to a man who has lost his habits of work. For 
among his habits which have been sloughed off by the army is the 
complex constellation of habits, skills, and attitudes which nor- 
mally reconcile the wage-slave to his drudgery. There is work in 
the army, but there is also a great deal of idleness, and the work 
is not motivated in the same manner as that of the civilian laborer; 
therefore the veteran lacks the central part of the toiler's equip- 
ment, the motivation to work. Indeed, as we have seen, army life, 
where everything is provided without charge, is antithetical to the 
very idea of working for one's living. 

He Feels That His Country Owes Him a Job 

The soldier's predatory attitude toward property, and his feeling 
that others owe him something because he spilled his blood or 
risked his neck have something to do with the veteran's insistent 


demands for pensions and preferments. Romains has sketched this 
complex of attitudes skillfully in the following passage: 

Yesterday when I was passing a fruiterer's stall I suddenly 
realized that I was thinking (you mustn't take this too seri- 
ously), "He ought to think himself damned lucky that we 
don't relieve him of his pots of jam and his vegetables." (Prob- 
ably the memory of the three days' fast had something to do 
with it.) But there's something in that whole attitude that is 
pleasurable and stimulating. Isn't that exactly what went to 
make up the sense of belonging to a noble caste in the days of 
aristocracy? The noble fought, let himself be killed, but, apart 
from that, didn't do a hand's turn. He expected the villein to 
bring him the tithe of his crops, a proportion of the yield of 
his wretched industries, the virginity of his female children. 
My men don't think of themselves as aristocrats, don't address 
one another as Sir Knight or baron . . . because in their eyes 
those terms have a glamour of age which disguises their real 
significance. But they are passing through a comparable stage 
of evolution. Many of them will feel badly let down when 
one of these days, they are asked to take up once again their 
base, mechanic trades. All will accept as their right a pension 
which shall assure them a means of life when they're beyond 
work. Put yourself in their place. They've entered into a 
compact with the nation and that compact has two main 
clauses, no less binding for being unspoken: "You must pro- 
tect me, even at the cost of your life," says the nation. "All 
right," replies the soldier, "but in that case you must make 
yourself responsible for my life so long as it continues." The 
trouble is that there are too many of us, whether it's merely 
a question of our pride or of the privileges which we claim 
from the future. It's difficult to be overweeningly proud of 
a state of life which one shares with millions. It's difficult to 
expect the nation to keep its warriors indefinitely, when those 
warriors are no less than the nation in arms. Aristocracy is 
only an effective doctrine when it is applied to a limited num- 
ber. The ennobled should not amount to more than a hundred 
thousand. 1 

To this discussion we should add that defeat in the ordinary 
processes of economic competition greatly re-enforces the veteran's 

1 Jules Remains, Men of Good Will'. Vol. VIII. Verdun. Knopf, 1940, pp. 


idea that the rest of the world should support him. But it is doubt- 
ful that the veteran can lay much claim to the status of aristocrat. 
He becomes rather a sort of privileged beggar. 

The problem of the veteran's economic status cannot be sep- 
arated from the question of his place in the class system of society. 
Concerning the standards by which one's social position is meas- 
ured, the veteran has some right to be confused. He has seen 
men's worth computed by three sets of standards in rapid succes- 
sion, first by the standards of civilian society, then by army stand- 
ards, and at last by the standards of the post-war period. 

One's rank in civilian society depends upon ancestry, wealth, 
occupation, or profession, moral status, and evidences of culture 
and refinement. Of all these criteria, wealth or income level is the 
most important, and all others must give way to it. The upper 
classes tend to be composed of persons who have at least a moderate 
amount of wealth for a few generations and who enjoy high pro- 
fessional and cultural position. A social class is a group of people 
set off from others primarily by similarity of life chances. On the 
mental side, the class system is simply a system of upward-looking 
and downward-looking attitudes. 

From Army Caste System to Peacetime Class System 

When a young man joins the army, he brings with him civilian 
standards of class and the attitudes that go with them. The army 
has its own characteristic hierarchy but, even in the democratic 
nations perhaps especially in the democratic nations one's posi- 
tion in that hierarchy tends to correspond to his class position in 
society. The commissioned officers are the elite of the army, and 
tend to be taken from the upper classes or at least from the edu- 
cated group; formerly commissions could be purchased on behalf 
of a young man who had a suitable family background. Hereditary 
status plays an important part in every officer cadre, but various 
considerations sometimes force a lowering of these bars, so that per- 
sons of any social class who have demonstrated their military 
capacity may become officers. One of these considerations is effi- 
ciency. If an army is to be really effective, it must give positions of 
leadership to talented men of whatever rank in society; this is the 
logic of Napoleon's maxim concerning la carriere ouverte aux 


talents. The army that has best met this criterion in World War II 
is probably the Russian and the next best job has been done by the 
German army. Or it may come about that the need for greatly ex- 
panding the officer corps or for replacing casualties forces armies 
to open their commissioned ranks to competition, an eventuality 
that occurs frequently in modern war. 

When, for whatever reason, army positions are opened to com- 
petition, men of military capacity rise to the top. If this compe- 
tition takes place in war, there is a rapid testing that brings pro- 
motion to the men who can fight and eliminates those who cannot. 
In time of war it is possible to distinguish a Grant, a Sherman, or 
a Stonewall Jackson from a Burnside or a McClellan. Grant, the 
drinker and unsuccessful business man, can obtain supreme com- 
mand when the times call for hard, stubborn fighting. Nathan 
Bedford Forrest, trader in human flesh whom the best families of 
the South could never quite accept, no reader of books or theo- 
retical tactician but a killer and a man born for war, wins battles 
because he gets "thar fust with the most men," comes at last to be 
recognized as almost the equal of Stonewall Jackson. 

While these great men are winning high place, many thousands 
of lesser men are finding their way to less spectacular promotion. 
This man who has been a sergeant in the regular army, who has 
taken advantage of his opportunities and obtained a college degree, 
comes up from the ranks and becomes a major and then a lieu- 
tenant-colonel. Others come in from civilian life at the time when 
the army needs officers, and, since competition in the early stages 
is far from severe, go up rapidly. But while this shoe-salesman 
becomes a lieutenant and that unemployed schoolteacher a beloved 
captain, a brilliant young philosopher remains a private, perhaps 
being promoted to the grade of corporal after a couple of years. 
One cannot say, exactly, that the bottom rail is on top; it is not, 
always, or even usually. But when war comes men must sell their 
talents in a different market, and some abilities that formerly 
brought a high price are worthless, while other capacities that were 
formerly worth but little now come very high indeed. 

The military caste of every nation, the corps of professional 
soldiers who are the officers of the peacetime army, does everything 
it can to protect itself against those soldiers who rise from the 
ranks and those who come in from civil life. Professional soldiers 


never quite accept these outsiders, however necessary they may b( 
in time of war. To the professional officer, such men are "tem- 
porary gentlemen," or "gentlemen by Act of Congress." Everv 
attempt is made to assure that their military rank will be can- 
celled at the end of the war. Even today the gulf between the 
Army of the United States and the United States Army is only less 
wide and deep than that between the reserves and the regular navy. 

The common soldier is hardly in a position to understand the 
revaluation of men which takes place in the officer ranks. What 
he does see is that he and his comrades are living in a world where 
their worth, and therefore their social standing, are determined 
by criteria alien to civilian society. Physical strength, bravery, 
skill in dealing with the physical facts of life and with the harsher 
aspects of social reality count for much in the army. A farmer, a 
taxi-driver, or a policeman may well be a better man than any 
Doctor of Literature. Privates feel, of course, that their subjuga- 
tion to their officers is temporary, and hope that some day their 
positions will be reversed. One of their most frequent comments 
is, "I hope I meet that guy in civilian life." 

The end of the war terminates competition of the military sort, 
and subjects the veterans to another revaluation of their abilities. 
They are restored to the civilian competitive system, and the sys- 
tem itself is somewhat altered. Some are able to return to a status 
assured by inherited wealth and family background. Most veterans 
must find their own way on the basis of their own abilities and the 
luck that comes to them. Those who come out best in this new 
competition are not always those who have been the best soldiers. 

When soldiers meet again after a few months of civilian life, they 
often find much of their old comradeship gone. Remarque notes 
this, conjecturing that "profession and family and social standing, 
like so many wedges, have split us asunder." 2 Competition has 
also played a part in this severance, in that it has oriented each 
man to the task of looking out for himself and living for himself. 
There is this difference between the competition of the army and 
that of civilian life: That competition in the army is emulation 
directed toward the common good, while competition in civilian 
life is each for himself. When comrades meet after some months 
out of uniform, they often find the clash of class conceptions dis- 

2 Erich Maria Remarque, The Road Back. Little Brown, 1931, p. 198. 


tressing. In the army all are just plain soldiers; they share every- 
thing. When they return to civil life, one looks at the other in a 
patronizing manner and calls him, "My man." 3 

Particularly distressing is the situation of the "ranker," the "tem- 
porary gentleman," when he returns to civilian life. Many of these, 
of course, return to a higher status in civilian life than they occu- 
pied in the army, but many others never again rise as high, hold 
as much power, or touch as much money as during the war. A vet- 
eran of the Rainbow Division tells of his great pleasure in meeting 
his former captain who had become a shoe clerk in a bargain base- 
ment. One can hardly begrudge him that pleasure; no doubt he 
had his reasons for feeling as he did. Still, one cannot help think- 
ing about the captain. 

3 ibid., p. 180. 

Some Veterans 
Return to School 

A PROGRAM of rehabilitation through schooling has many 
advantages. The school can be adjusted to the veteran 
better than any other institution. Education can be tailor- 
made to his measure. Educators are accustomed to treating the 
aberrations of youth with a wide tolerance; teachers can afford to 
make allowances where employers cannot. An educational en- 
vironment, in America, is traditionally one in which social pres- 
sures are not severe; under the light yoke of education the veteran 
has a chance to work out his emotional readjustments. Education 
is, furthermore, the shortest route to real rehabilitation, whose 
goal must be to enmesh the soldier once more in the communica- 
tive process of society, and to restore him to his rightful place in 
competition. Education can do these things as nothing else can. 
Certainly for the younger soldiers, a few years in some educational 
institution would be the best possible bridge from the army to 
civil life. 

Schooling, even college training, was in fact furnished to a great 
number of disabled veterans after World War I. At that time the 
program was limited to the disabled, of whom 329,969 registered 
for vocational training, 179,515 entered training, and 118,355 were 
classified as rehabilitated and employable by reason of training. 1 
While the results of this program were not altogether gratifying, it 
set a precedent for the use of education as a rehabilitating agency. 

Veterans: A Very Special Type of Student 

Many veterans find the reversion to the status of pupil, with its 
assumption of immaturity on the part of the student, somewhat re- 
pugnant. They do not like to be told that every theme must be 

l Cf. Gustavus A. Weber and Laurence F. Schmeckebier, The Veterans Ad- 
ministration, Its History, Activities and Organization. Brookings Institution, 



folded once, lengthwise, and must have the student's name and 
the class and the date on the back, in the upper left-hand corner, 
three inches from the top. They do not readily accept supervision 
of their hours, amusements, and morals. They resent the dean of 
men and his use of landladies as spies. They have managed to take 
care of themselves in various corners of the world, have given a 
good account of themselves at certain disputed barricades, and 
they do not enjoy having their lives regulated by bespectacled pro- 
fessors who are, for the most part, the softest of soft civilians. 

While the veteran resents the assumption of immaturity, it would 
be an error to suppose that he is actually mature. War has aged 
him and developed some aspects of his personality, but it has pre- 
vented him from growing up in other ways. The veteran is not 
immature in the same way in which the ordinary college boy is 
immature. He knows more about sex, perhaps less about love. He 
knows how to fight, but is less likely than the college boy to have 
had a satisfactory work experience. In academic work, the boy 
who goes directly from school to college has a great advantage, but 
the veteran has a greater sophistication and a wider experience of 
people, especially outside his own social class. Both the college 
boy and the veteran are shockingly uninformed on political affairs. 
The veteran who has become a commissioned officer or a non-com 
has some organizing ability; he knows how to run things. What is 
certainly indicated is that, if the veteran returns to school or col- 
lege, some way must be found to capitalize on his experience and 
to remedy its lacks. 

The veteran has lost much of his interest in studies. Very likely 
he began to lose interest before he joined the army. It is hard to 
memorize eighteenth century poetry when interruption of studies is 
momentarily threatened and death within a few months is highly 
possible. Then came the war, and an end of studies, and the with- 
ering away in one's mind of all that the studies stood for. One 
learned to live for the moment, looking forward to the soldier's 
hectic holidays, and resorting to comic books for intellectual stim- 
ulation. It is a long way from there to Parnassus, and who is inter- 
ested in mountain-climbing anyhow? What does one get when he 
has climbed Parnassus? A medal? 

The thought of returning to my theological studies, inter- 
rupted three years earlier, flitted through my mind occasion- 


ally. The idea plunged me into a most somber mood. No 
doubt it would provide a tranquil existence after the tumult, 
but the war had implanted a restlessness in my spirit which 
filled me with an inexpressible contempt for the uneventful 
drudgery of everyday life. I did not crave adventure, but sub- 
consciously, I suppose, I had expected something phenomenal 
to happen upon the return home, some great change, a new 
start. There had been a thunderstorm and the atmosphere 
had failed to clear. It was the same petty, monotonous, joy- 
less, suffocating world of three years before, only now I was 
more intensely aware of it. Faces and voices of old acquaint- 
ances looked and sounded familiar, and yet we did not under- 
stand each other. Something had come between us. 2 

In school, as elsewhere, the veteran, who has had his belly full 
of discipline, rebels against authority. Teachers, accustomed to 
their own strange world in which they maintain without too much 
trouble their ill-defined authority over a room-full of fraternity 
men, foot-ball players, nonentities and big men on the campus, do 
not quite know how to cope with this surly and unpredictable 
fellow who comes back from the wars, who sits apathetically 
through a dozen good lectures and then reacts with violence to 
some casual remark. To the veteran, the professor is just another 
civilian who has not been anywhere or seen anything, who does 
not know war and therefore does not know much. But the teacher 
who can establish a favorable relationship with the veteran finds 
in him a confused and bewildered boy in need of help. When such 
a relationship arises, there is no longer any question of authority. 

The moral atmosphere that the veteran establishes on the cam- 
pus is hardly conducive to serious study. Vera Brittain notes that 
her war generation upon return to civilian life continued to be 
obsessed by the "desperate feeling that life was short." They had 
brought with them from the trenches the philosophy of eat, drink, 
and be merry, for tomorrow we probably get our heads blown off. 
And over them all hovered an "inexplicable sense of urgency" 
which led "to a greedy grasping of the second-rate lest the first-rate 
should never materialize." 3 The description is accurate, but the 
sense of urgency is not inexplicable. The transition from short- 
term to long-term adjustments is most difficult. Ordinarily we can 

2 Pierre Van Paassen, Days of Our Years. Hillman-Curl, 1939, p. 91. 

3 Vera Brittain, Testament of Youth. Macmillan, 1933, p. 498. 


overcome the reckless hedonism of the young by means of our 
elaborately organized moral system of threats and bribes. War 
changes all that with its gladiator psychology, its morituri men- 
tality, its state of mind of those about to die. That state of mind 
dies hard. "Extraordinary creatures, you young people," says a 
character of Remarque. "The past you hate, the present you de- 
spise, and the future is a matter of indifference." 

Their Difficulty in Adjusting to School 

Return to school brings the veteran into contact with a younger 
age group. The fellowship of veterans and of post-war youth is 
not altogether congenial. Post-war youth is worse than indifferent 
to the veteran; it resents him and is antagonistic to him. The 
veteran cannot understand that these younger men are jealous be- 
cause they have been cheated of their war, or that they are dis- 
organized because they grew to maturity under the confusing con- 
ditions of war. He does not share the normal interest of college 
boys in the undergraduate culture. He cannot get as excited as 
they do about football, fraternities, freshman rules, hell week, or 
dunking people in the pond. He has few convictions concerning 
the best kind of fraternity rushing. In short, it is next to impos- 
sible to treat the veteran socially as an undergraduate. Post-war 
youths, in their turn, find it quite impossible to understand vet- 
erans, with their apathies and their intensities, their strange jokes 
which are not funny at all, and their deep and inexhaustible wells 
of bitterness. The two generations just do not mix. 

Some of these points are illustrated by the following life-history 

"In the Summer of 1919 I returned to college after an absence 
of a year, a part of which I had spent in the service. The soldiers 
were then straggling back to college, and by that time there were 
some hundreds of us at our midwestern university. 

"As I looked about me, I found a number of the boys whom I 
had known before. There was Leslie N., big and eloquent, des- 
tined for the law if he ever managed to complete his college courses. 
Years before he had confided in me his regret that everything worth 
saying had already been said. He was sorry there was no room for 
any more eloquence in the patriotic line which was his specialty. 
He was very young, but he volunteered for the army and went to 


France. He saw some action and got a whiff of gas. When he re- 
turned to college, he was still the same jovial, self-confident fellow 
as before, but with an under layer of hardness and cynicism that 
had not been visible in the earlier days. He went out for football, 
and found himself in poor condition. He called the coach aside 
to explain that he had been in France and had been living high. 
'I see,' said the coach, 'all the vices with the possible exception of 
homosexuality.' Only the coach did not call it homosexuality. I be- 
lieve Leslie was finally dropped from the squad, and I am sure he 
did not care very much. I know he did little school work that year. 

"The group with which I was most en rapport was composed of 
two other veterans, a non-veteran, and myself. There was Walt, 
who had been an aviator. He had been in France and had crashed 
a couple of times. He had all the usual yarns about the Paris seen 
by the young aviators, some French post-cards, and a few maga- 
zines. That year he was a restless and uneasy instructor in mathe- 
matics; his salary was quite small. Then there was Tom, the dis- 
abled soldier. He had picked up a piece of shrapnel in his leg 
because he guessed wrong and walked on the wrong side of the 
road. Army doctors had already performed seventeen operations 
on him but his leg was not well. He walked with a limp and had 
an open sore from which pus came out occasionally. Just a fresh- 
man, he was intellectually the least developed of the group but 
this child had been in hell. As an infantryman, he had seen a 
great deal of the war. He had also been in many government hos- 
pitals; he had little to say of the more serious aspects of hospital 
life, but he loved to tell of his conquests among the nurses. 

"There was Martin, the civilian. He had tried after graduation 
from college to get into some branch of the service, but all had 
turned him down because he was too light. Highly intelligent, sen- 
sitive, literate, quick and sure of himself, he had mastered his en- 
vironment and solved his problems, but at the cost of suppressing 
his ambitions. He was content to be a small-time teacher, or so 
he maintained. To him, ambition was a snare and a delusion. He 
was taking work toward an M.A. in Education, although he re- 
garded it as unspeakable balderdash. He fancied himself as a roue; 
he thought he was hard and sophisticated on the subject of women, 
but actually he was extremely susceptible to nice young girls. His 
expressed aim in life was to get married, buy a seven passenger 
automobile, and have enough children to fill all the seats. He 
never managed to make it quite clear what pleasure he expected 
to derive from this life-plan, but it was one way of expressing his 
contempt for the world. Then there was myself, a Senior and by 
no means sure just what I wanted to make of myself. 


"No one had ever told us about the Lost Generation, but all ot 
our little group belonged to it. All of us tried to manage our affairs 
in such a way as never to be caught studying, and yet we all got 
good grades. To be caught studying was thought to be a disgrace. 
Only saps worked; only morons need to study. It was better not 
even to buy text-books. A very occasional trip to the library was 
permissible, provided that one did not overdo the matter. Writing 
letters or term papers was also permissible. On Sundays we all got 
together and walked to a hotel a couple of miles away for a dinner 
a little better than usual, away from the collegiate atmosphere. 
Then we would all go to Walt's room and talk. 

"We all agreed that if a person could have everything he wanted 
for a couple of years, and then die painlessly, and if possible unex- 
pectedly, from a bullet in the brain, that would be a splendid bar- 
gain; we talked of this possibility a great deal. We used to ask 
one another whether, for say ten thousand dollars, we would kill 
the harmless gentleman walking on the other side of the street, and 
the answer was always yes of course we would. Half-seriously we 
planned crimes such as bank-robberies. The hitch was that we 
were all intelligent enough to realize that it would be necessary to 
make a very good haul in order to profit from a crime; otherwise 
it would just not pay. We also realized that we knew nothing of 
the technique of crime, which was a specialized business which we 
hesitated to enter just as we should have hesitated to go into the 
automobile business without knowing more about it, and so our 
criminality remained a pleasing phantasy. 

"As I see it now, we were trying like so many others of the Lost 
Generation to find some way to avoid the piece-meal sale of our 
lives bodies, minds. We were trying to avoid the sordid day-by- 
dayness of the ordinary career by making one gigantic sale all at 
once. And since we had learned that the ideals for which our gen- 
eration had been asked to sacrifice its arms, legs, eyes, lungs and 
peace of mind were the utmost nonsense, and the men who had 
sold us those ideas were crooks and frauds, it was an interesting 
idea to try to make our one big sale to the devil himself. 

"Work, in the ordinary sense of the term, we abhorred, although 
most of us enjoyed using our minds. In spite of our inclinations in 
that direction, our little group went on no sprees and staged no 
debauches. We were all poor. Tom, with his disability pay, was 
probably the richest of our group. We had never heard of Freud's 
famous advice to young men, 'Be continent, but under protest,' 
but we followed it to the letter. I was much attached to those boys. 
We got together once after leaving school. After that one reunion, 
I never saw any of them again. 


"We soldiers at the university thought we should organize. We 
had many meetings at which we made speeches concerning the 
desirability of organizing and having regular meetings. I do not 
remember just what the advantages of organization were supposed 
to be but I know I made quite a number of speeches on the sub- 
ject. At these meetings there was no talk about our successful 
crusade to make the world safe for democracy. If anyone had dared 
to talk such rot he would have been hooted down. When the Legion 
came along, we all joined it. It cost a very small sum at the time. 

"As students, we veterans made life unpleasant for some of the 
well-meaning gentlemen who taught us. It happened that I was in 
the one class in the university which caused more trouble than any 
other. The teacher was small, pot-bellied, and was beginning to 
lose his hair. There were about fifty or sixty ex-service men in his 
class, and he made the mistake of attempting to bully us. 

"He began by inquiring about our home towns. He intended to 
assign each of us a project concerning his home community. Then 
he made supposedly humorous comments concerning those com- 
munities. The class began to become restive. He felt that this 
would be a good time to throw in a little fight talk. 

" 'Now if any of you fellows think you are going to get by with 
anything, you're going to be fooled,' he said, walking up and down 
in front of the class and strutting a little. 'You fellows have got 
to work in here just the same as anybody else. I won't let any of 
you get by with anything. I'm the teacher, and I can flunk the 
whole class if I have to. Just buckle down and do what I tell you 
and everything will be all right.' 

"This was just what we were looking for, a fight. I mentioned 
a common barnyard mixture which often figured in our conversa- 
tion in those days, mentioned it quite loudly and without moving 
my lips, as I had learned to do in the Navy. The class roared. 
From then on, he never had any control over us. Every class was 
a pandemonium. The whole time was spent in a futile attempt 
to maintain order and to restore his sadly damaged dignity. He 
kept threatening to flunk the whole class. We knew he could never 
get by with that. Anyhow, we had been threatened before. People 
had threatened us with violence and sudden death, with court 
martial, imprisonment, dishonorable discharge, and execution at 
sunrise. We just couldn't get much worried about his threats. Then 
he made a great tactical error. He offered to organize another class, 
a tutoring class, in which for a consideration he would teach us 
enough to pass the course in about five hours. Instantly we took 
advantage of this error. Letters appeared in the college paper 


pointing out that something was wrong with a professor who could 
teach a subject in five hours, for extra pay, but failed to teach it 
in forty-eight class hours in return for his regular salary. We made 
things very unpleasant for the unfortunate man, and felt very 
virtuous about it. In the end he had to pass everybody. 

"I have since come to believe that the university authorities were 
anxious to get rid of us. This was certainly a reasonable attitude 
on their part. They were most generous in the granting of credits 
for military service, and they relaxed other rules to the best of their 
ability. The university must have been sadly disorganized anyhow, 
what with the loss of the faculty and the difficulty of obtaining 
replacements through the war years, the insane period of the SATC, 
(Students' Army Training Corps,) and finally the influx of unman- 
ageable ex-soldiers. I obliged the authorities by taking my degree 
and leaving at the end of the term." 

The above story has some significance because it shows that the 
schools and colleges, if they are to handle the veteran successfully, 
must make special preparations for his return. There must be some 
adaptation of the curriculum and other requirements in order to 
give veterans the kind of training they want and can profit from. 
Teachers and administrators must learn something of veteran psy- 
chology, if they are to avoid such mistakes as those chronicled above. 
Dean John L. Bergstresser, of the College of the City of New York, 
has pointed out that many of the younger faculty members will 
also be veterans who bring with them certain problems of their 
own, 4 

Estimates as to the number of veterans who will return to school 
or college after the war vary greatly, but there will doubtless be 
hundreds of thousands. If the schools are willing and able to make 
the necessary adaptations as they probably are we may be sure 
that the educational environment is the best place for many, if not 
most, of the younger veterans. 

4 In a paper presented to a four-state conference of college administrators 
and guidance workers at Columbia University, April 22, 1944. 

Types of Veterans: 
Professional, Normal 

WAR does different things to different men. It disables one, 
unbalances the mind of a second, pauperizes a third, and 
makes a fourth write great literature to ease his tortured 
soul. Every type of veteran has his own characteristic problems of 

The Disabled: Society's Greatest Responsibility 

The disabled veteran is the man for whom the war never comes 
to an end. He is the bitterest veteran, and the one whose claim 
upon society is greatest. More than any other old soldier, he is in 
danger of pauperization. 

The war never ends for the disabled veteran because he carries 
a reminder of it in his body. His arm, leg, or eye is gone, and he 
wages an unceasing struggle to live without it. He must inevitably 
shape his life and adjust his personality to his disability. In every- 
thing he does or thinks or dreams he must remember his handicap. 

The shock visited upon the wounded soldier is the greatest which 
the human body is ever called upon to resist or the human mind to 
endure. At one moment a man is at the peak of his physical pow- 
ers, a hardened young athlete capable of running miles with a 
heavy pack, going without food, sleeping in a fox-hole, or killing 
his enemy with his bare hands. At the next moment, he is a hope- 
less cripple wedded to pain and condemned to live with his de- 
formity the rest of his life. Laurence Stallings tells of a wounded 
captain. He was pulling a lanyard when he was struck and he 
woke up in the hospital addicted to morphine. He was never able 
to find out what hit him. 

Naturally the disabled veteran is the bitterest of all. He is the 



one who has paid the price of war. It began with his pain, which 
was his and his alone, which no one could take from him or share 
with him. Many writers on war have told of the bitter look of 
wounded men, and of their pessimistic words. We read of the 
miracles of modern medicine that save all but a few of the wounded 
and we forget that every wounded man must still experience a 
great deal of intense suffering, that pain must be his companion for 
weeks and months on end. The disabled veteran is not a fool; he 
knows that his society sent him on a dangerous mission and his 
quite personal agony is a result of that mission. Many a disabled 
veteran knows very well what life holds for him. Aware that he can 
never again lead a normal life, he refuses to deceive himself about 
it. He knows pain will never quite leave him, no employer will 
ever have him except for pity, no woman but for pay. No little 
baby will pit its tiny strength against his fingers, because there is 
only a hook on the end of his arm. No child will ever love him; 
there will be no child. Nasty, brutish, short his life, his breath, 
his temper. 1 

The disabled veteran has always had a hospital experience. Hav- 
ing suffered some months of pain and helplessness, he has seen and 
been a part of a great deal of human misery. A military hospital 
can never be a pleasant place. After the horrors of the dressing 
station whither the bleeding stumps and remainders of men are 
carried, one must endure the hospital where those pieces of men 
fight the long battle against putrefaction and try to emerge with 
as large a stump of arm, as much of a leg, as good an eye as circum- 
stances permit. Hospitals are better now than they once were. 
During the Civil War, the dressing stations were little more than 
butcher shops and the hospitals hardly different from pest-houses. 
The Civil War doctors, who loved to amputate, sharpened their 
knives on the soles of their shoes, stood in blood, worked with their 
arms spattered with blood up to their elbows, and stacked the am- 
putated limbs in neat piles outside the door. Doctors knew nothing 
of antiseptics in those days, and so the wound almost always in- 
fected, and the patient lay in the hospital with a few hundred 
others while letting nature take its highly odoriferous course. 

i Note the frequency of violent and lawless acts by disabled veterans. Current 
newspapers carry the story of an attempted assault on John L. Lewis by two 
disabled veterans. Crime statistics show a high percentage of disabled veterans 
who become criminal. 


Many writers have described life in a hospital. The patient's 
field of attention is narrowed, being dominated by pain and minute 
awareness of the state of his body. Social contacts are few but in- 
tensely meaningful. One adjusts to invalidism and learns the tricks 
of getting by. If he pretends not to know or understand about 
morphine, he gets it to ease his pain. He knows that the doctor talks 
to him in a certain way when he is about to insert a probe. He 
comes to evaluate and resent the professional cheerer-uppers who 
walk along the aisles, the "hedge-rows of misery," and demand 
great, big smiles. 2 In the long months of pain and uncertainty, one 
acquires patterns of thinking and feeling which gradually become 
inflexible. The disabled veteran is more emotionally intense and 
unstable than other veterans, a condition that probably begins in 
the hospital. 

The task of readjustment for the disabled veteran is that of re- 
establishing normal social and occupational relationships in spite 
of handicaps. The community accepts him readily enough, but fam- 
ily and job relationships are problematical. Understandably 
enough, the disabled are at a great disadvantage in relations with 
women. Many are completely unfitted for family life both in 
physique and in attitudes. Others are abnormally sensitive about 
their handicaps and establish sex relationships with difficulty. Psy- 
chological and psychiatric guidance could probably help in such 
matters, in so far as any help at all is possible. 

The rehabilitation program for disabled veterans after World 
War I was supposed to help them attain occupational readjust- 
ment. The fundamental idea was sound: to retrain the veteran in 
an occupation in which his disability would not be a handicap. 3 
He must be retrained in other ways as well. It takes skill to walk 
on artificial legs and to make the most of a piece of an arm. The 
badly disabled must make a sort of profession of living with their 
disability. Necessarily, life adjustments revolve around it. 

A part of the adjustment of the disabled veteran consists of ac- 
quiring social roles, attitudes, and rationalizations clustering around 
his disability and having the function of helping to make it bear- 

2 One of the best hospital stories was written by Laurence Stallings. See "Vale 
of Tears," in Men at War, edited by Ernest Hemingway, Crown, 1942. Stallings' 
satire of the YMCA man is vicious, but it reflects an attitude shared by many 
at the time. It is part of the soldier's attitude toward men of talk. 

3 The shortcomings of this program are analyzed elsewhere. See below our 
chapter "Some Spectacular Failures in Helping Veterans." 


able. Inferiority feelings may easily arise around such things, espe- 
cially if the person had a previous tendency in that direction. This 
may lead to over-compensation, and to the insufferable, uncertain 
combination of pride, insecurity, and aggression so often seen in 
the crippled and the deformed. If, however, the defect does not 
give rise to psychological compensation, but merely to acceptance 
of the handicap at its face value as a disabling injury, it may lead 
to pauperization. 

It is undoubtedly better for the disabled veteran to develop a 
compensatory drive, and to develop a structure of attitudes and 
rationalizations to minimize his handicap. Part of the process of 
helping him to adjust is to show him what he can make of his life 
in spite of a handicap and to suggest plausible rationalizations. 
This involves the formation of social roles that enable one to make 
the most of what one has and to fend off pity. That is the function 
of the cripple's smile, which interposes a hard, bright cheerfulness 
between him and the person who might otherwise offer him useless 
sympathy. The smile also, of course, gives the last touch of pathos 
to the cripple's appeal, though one cannot say whether or not the 
cripple is usually aware of this. 

McGonegal and Gibson: Two Remarkable Veterans 

Charles McGonegal, one of the great disabled veterans of World 
War I, now spends much of his time in helping the disabled of 
World War II to overcome their difficulties. He has no hands, only 
bright steel claws, but he can do incredible things with them. 
Time magazine recently printed a character sketch of McGonegal, 
and described his methods with the disabled. 

In December 1917 Private McGonegal left Hoboken with 
12,500 others aboard the Leviathan, seabound on her maiden 
voyage as a transport under the American flag. 

So McGonegal, of North Dakota, who had known only 
prairies, horses, steam engines and a whirl through training 
camps, went to France. He arrived in the Toul sector on Janu- 
ary 19, 1918, where his outfit relieved some Moroccan soldiers 
near Beaumont. On a clear day the American could see the 
city of Metz. They said to each other that sooner or later they'd 
knock the damn place down. 

McGonegal's one bother was what to do about a diamond 
ring he wore on his left hand. If he got killed, it should go 


back to his family. It had been his meal ticket on critical fiscal 
occasions. McGonegal made a small leather pouch, sewed the 
ring in it, and hung it around his neck against his dog tags. 
Then he felt better. 

On the morning of February 3, 1918, McGonegal went out 
as a grenadier opening the way for wiring parties. The Ger- 
mans signaled back for a barrage. As McGonegal fumbled for 
another hand grenade, shrapnel struck his head. He sagged 
down. When he rallied he tried to prop himself on his hands, 
to rise. But he found his arms were gone just below the elbows. 

Later, at Field Hospital No. 13, they found he had eight 
teeth missing, a bad mouth wound, a fracture of the skull, both 
knees splintered and 102 other small wounds, cuts and burns. 

The doctors gave him the leather pouch with the diamond 

When he got out of the hospital, with two artificial arms, 
he took a business course and started selling insurance. He 
worked in a lumber yard, drove a truck, did clerical work in 
Los Angeles, worked for a utilities company. For four years he 
was postmaster of Bell, California. Now he is national field sec- 
retary for the American Legion, is married, with a couple of 
sons, and has a ranch. 

Last week he went out to Walter Reed Hospital, in Wash- 
ington, as he goes around to many hospitals where sit young 
ex-soldiers without hands, and without much hope. He did a 
a few of the things he is used to doing nearly every day. He 
did them with ease. He took a box of matches out of his 
pocket and lit his cigaret. He used a telephone. He wrote a 
good hand, in pen and pencil. He handled a pack of cards. He 
showed the goggle-eyed boys how to do these things. He talked 
to them all. 

"But say," said one of the boys who had lost an arm, "what 
about when you go to dance with a girl? Do you put a hand 
like that around her?" 

McGonegal's eyes flashed. He called in a nurse and did a 
few turns around the floor with her. It looked fine. 

"You must come to understand," said McGonegal to the 
boy, "that warmth comes from the heart and not from the 
hands anyway." 

He will go to six more Army and Navy hospitals between 
now and April, and spend a week with the boys at each of 
them. His elder son is overseas now. 4 

Time, Feb. 14, 1944. 


A further story is told of McGonegal and his methods. A boy 
was invalided home without arms. He sat at home, alone and bit- 
ter. His mother tried to talk to him, but failed to draw him out. 
The boy attended one of McGonegal's meetings. That night he 
dressed in his best, and got ready to leave the house. With con- 
siderable emphasis, he said to his mother, "I'm going out and don't 
you ask where I'm going." 

He was going to see his girl. 

Billy Gibson is another disabled veteran who has persuaded a 
great many crippled young men that they can lead a normal life 
in spite of a handicap. Before World War I, Gibson was a song and 
dance man whose specialty was an imitation of George M. Cohan. 
He lost his right leg in the Argonne. He became so expert in the 
use of his artificial leg that he was able to return to vaudeville and 
do all his old impersonations. Later he worked for a manufacturer 
of artificial limbs. At present he spends his life cheering up crip- 
pled soldiers in the hospital wards. First he goes through his dance 
routine and then he shows the patients that he has an artificial 
leg. Sometimes he organizes a little tour of the night clubs for the 
convalescents whom he has trained. 

The readjustment of the disabled veteran does not depend en- 
tirely upon himself. He must acquire skills and adjust his attitudes, 
but the world must also be ready to receive him. Industry, par- 
ticularly big business, has apparently made some progress in this 
direction. Studies have been made to ascertain what sorts of duties 
a man can safely and effectively perform after he has lost an arm, 
a leg, or an eye. Scientific job analysis should be able to accom- 
plish great results in this work. Early experiences with such place- 
ments are apparently encouraging. 

A piece of a man may do very well for industry, but not for a 
woman. A crippled man has a problem in his erotic relations. If, 
like such men as McGonegal and Gibson, he has an unusually at- 
tractive and outgoing personality, he may be able to overcome 
this handicap, but for every one who has such an asset there are 
a dozen who do not. A physical handicap detracts from a man's 
bargaining power in relations with women. Very likely there will 
be a considerable number of veterans who will never be able to 
make normal family adjustment and will therefore resort to com- 
mercialized relations. 


In planning our policy for the treatment of disabled veterans, 
we must also remember that some kinds of disabled men constitute 
a public health problem. We may expect our veterans to bring 
back with them some strange diseases, and difficulties may arise in 
preventing the spread of these diseases. Experience indicates a need 
for special care in the handling of tuberculous veterans; it is clear 
that we must make some modifications in present procedures. 3 
Cases of tuberculosis among veterans of World War I have re- 
mained at a high figure since 1919. Hospital admissions in 1942 
numbered 9,658, while $40,000,000 was paid out to 63,000 veterans 
who suffered partial or total disability because of tuberculosis. The 
problem is to keep the veterans hospitalized until they are cured. 
Of the 9,854 discharged from hospitals in 1942, only three per cent 
could be classified as "medically rehabilitated." Tuberculous vet- 
erans go in and out of the hospitals with astonishing ease; there 
have been 300,000 admissions since World War I. Some veterans 
have left the hospital and been readmitted as many as twenty-four 
times, while six to eight admissions are not uncommon. There is 
no way of forcing or inducing veterans to remain in the excellent 
hospitals for a full cure, especially since the disability payments 
provide an extra $50 a month for the wife or other person attend- 
ing a patient who elects to be treated at home. But as long as the 
tuberculous veteran remains uncured and at large, he is a menace 
to the health of the community, and some way must be found to 
induce him to undergo the treatment necessary for full recovery. 

The Veteran Who Is Psychoneurotic 

It is perhaps justifiable to group together all those who in one 
way or another have broken down psychologically as a result of 
war. These are the ones to whom the term, shell-shock, used to be 
applied; a somewhat misleading but useful term. It is obvious 
that many different kinds of cases, in fact most of the nervous dis- 
orders known in civilian life, are included in such a category, and 
each kind of disorder has its own prognosis. 

We have not as yet perfected our understanding of these cases, 
and we do not know how to treat them as effectively as we treat 

6 Louis Dublin, "Function of the Health Officer in the Control of Tubercu- 
losis," in American Journal of Public Health, Dec. 1933, pp. 1425-1429. 


the physically disabled. The facts that we can set down with any 
assurance about such cases are rather few. 

According to current estimates, the armed services were discharg- 
ing psychoneurotic veterans at the rate of 10,000 cases a month in 
late 1943 and in early 1944. The army alone has discharged 
216,000 veterans for psychoneurosis at the time of writing. 6 
By the end of the war this figure will probably be increased by 
many hundreds of thousands. Neuro-psychiatric breakdowns con- 
stitute about thirty per cent of all casualties, but the rate varies 
from one theatre of war and one military organization to another. 
If our experience of World War I is repeated, great numbers of 
psychoneurotic cases will be added to the rolls in the post-war 
years. Although anxiety states predominate in the current con- 
flict, the neuroses of war are much like the neuroses of peace. 

Our past experience with such cases has been discouraging. Of 
the 67,000 beds in Veterans Administration hospitals, almost half 
are still occupied by the psychoneurotics of World War I. We 
have spent a billion dollars on such cases, their cost being some- 
times computed at $30,000 a case. Therapy in this field has lagged 
far behind the rest of medical practice. It is clear that the read- 
justment of the psychoneurotic is fully as much a social as a medical 
problem, and the social aspects of the problem have been neglected. 

The basis of psychological breakdown in war is ordinarily some 
pre-existing weakness in the personality. Some attempt has been 
made to screen out obvious misfits in induction, but suitably 
trained psychiatrists are few, the needs of military life not too well 
understood, and the attempt has not been highly successful. 

Because the basis of a breakdown is usually a pre-existing weak- 
ness, it follows that the prognosis is poorest for those who have the 
least reason for breaking. For example, the man who cracks up 
in combat has a better chance of recovery than the one who breaks 
in training. The writer has often talked with shell-shocked vet- 
erans of World War I, and it seemed clear enough that the stresses 
and strains that broke them would not have harmed the ordinary 

The circumstances of combat have much to do with the incidence 
of psychoneurotic casualties. When, as on Guadalcanal or the 

6 Statement by Col. William Claire Menninger, as reported in Time, May 29, 


Anzio beachhead, the same troops are kept for long periods in a 
severe and apparently almost hopeless fight, when the men get the 
idea that they have been sacrificed or forgotten, the number of 
breakdowns is large. The leadership of a military unit also has a 
profound effect upon the incidence of mental breakdown. Jittery 
officers can send men to the hospitals in droves. Good leadership, 
such as that furnished by Carlson to his Gung Ho raiders a highly 
selected group, to be sure can keep the rate of breakdown mini- 
mal, even in spite of severe combat conditions. 

Where men of previously stable personality break under the 
strain of combat, their condition may be diagnosed as traumatic 
war neurosis. Kardiner, in his authoritative work on the subject, 
notes that the symptoms of true traumatic neurosis vary according 
to the time when they are observed. 7 He differentiates between 
acute, transitional, and stabilized forms of symptoms. Symptoms 
of the acute period include such things as: shock and manifestations 
of terror, coma, mania, delirium, paralyses, and disturbances of the 
senses. In two or three weeks the transition is made to the sta- 
bilized form, which is usually similar to one of the well-known 
types of neurosis or psychosis. 

Although these stabilized neuroses or psychoses can assume al- 
most any of the forms known in time of peace, most of the trau- 
matic neuroses, according to Kardiner, have a constant core of 
symptoms which are readily recognizable. The individual becomes 
fixated on the trauma, and alters his conception of his self and 
the outer world. He has a typical dream life; he re-lives his terrible 
experiences in dreams. There is a contraction of the general level 
of functioning, irritability, and a proclivity to explosive aggressive 
reactions. Those who have had experience with such persons will 
have no difficulty in identifying these symptoms. The tendency 
toward explosive aggression sometimes gets the psychoneurotic vet- 
eran in trouble with the law; of this tendency the current news- 
papers furnish many examples. 

For cases of traumatic neurosis, early diagnosis and treatment 
are most important. But under combat conditions, early treatment 
is often difficult if not impossible, and in the period intervening 
between breakdown and treatment the symptoms, like other habits, 
become rigid and stabilized; we say that they are fixated. The 

7 Abram Kaxdiner, The Traumatic Neuroses of War. Hoeber, 1941. 


difficulty of giving early treatment is greatly increased by our 
failure to foresee the number of psychiatric breakdowns that would 
be produced by the conditions of modern war. If after this war 
we follow our traditional policy toward veterans, which is to ne- 
glect the disabled for several years, hundreds of thousands of psy- 
choneurotics will be ruined beyond hope of cure. 

The Choices in Dealing with Psychoneurotics 

A principal difficulty in the readjustment of the psychoneurotic 
is the public attitude toward him. While the physically disabled 
veteran is in general kindly regarded by society, our attitude toward 
those broken in mind is far less sympathetic. There is a stigma 
connected with psychological breakdown, even a suspicion of 

The notion that psychoneurotics are malingerers is probably 
wholly false. Medical science has progressed sufficiently to be able 
to weed out such cases effectively. Few deliberate malingerers get 
by, but the layman is to some extent justified in his suspicion of 
the psychoneurotic. It is true that such breakdowns result fully as 
much from a man's own pattern of attitudes as from the exigencies 
of war. The ethics of the matter is obscure. 

Pensions for the psychoneurotic present a nice problem. On the 
surface, it seems reasonable to suppose that society has just as much 
of an obligation to the man whose mind has broken as to him 
whose body has been maimed and in some cases it undoubtedly 
has. But the pension for the psychoneurotic may give him a psychic 
and social gain from neurosis that will make recovery more diffi- 
cult. To put the matter rather crudely, it may come about that a 
man makes his living by having a war neurosis; it is his means of 
gaining distinction in the world, his excuse for not subjecting 
himself to the struggles of life. Pensions may thus do positive harm 
to the psychoneurotic. Furthermore, if there is an extensive de- 
velopment of pensions for psychoneurotics after the war, this will 
certainly create ill-feeling, because the public will realize that most 
of these men have made only the slightest of contributions to the 
war and that a great many of them would have broken anyhow. 
Institutional care, as an alternative to pensions, also involves risks 
and disadvantages. 


The best solution would seem to be some development of social 
case work which would give help where it will aid recovery and 
withhold it if that will aid recovery but still recognize the need for 
relieving human misery wherever it exists. Anyone who can invent 
a successful social therapy for the psychoneurotics of war will rescue 
many lives from ruin and save the nation billions of dollars. 

In some respects, the popular attitude that regards the psycho- 
neurotic veteran with some suspicion is partly justified. They are 
probably poor marriage risks. Circumstances alter cases, and the 
veterans themselves differ greatly, but the odds are against them. 
Similarly, for certain jobs, especially in the field of human rela- 
tionships, and for jobs that involve great psychic strain, psychoneu- 
rotics are suspect. Employers report, however, that where a psycho- 
neurotic veteran is reemployed at his former job he usually per- 
forms very satisfactorily. 

It is well to remember, also, that there are psychotics and former 
psychotics and neurotics beyond counting, who escape diagnosis in 
ordinary life. Much of the work of the world, and much of the 
very best work, is done by persons not in the best of mental health. 
It would be most unfortunate for the veteran if he were made the 
victim of discrimination simply because his case has been diag- 

Pauperized Veterans: Society 3 s Handiwork 

The pauperized veteran, a well-known social type, is a person 
who capitalizes on the pathos of real or supposed military service 
to obtain charity. Well known today, the soldier-turned-beggar is 
a familiar historical figure. 

Some veterans, of course, would have become paupers if there 
had been no war. There are others who become paupers because 
they find the transition to civilian life difficult, learn the technique 
of begging, and become pauperized. 

The basis of such pauperization is often some real trouble, a 
minor disability that makes it hard to earn a living or an injustice 
that sours a man and makes him quit trying. While struggling 
with his problem, the veteran gets no help, or not enough help, 
or the wrong kind of help. He learns that he can live acceptably on 
his small gains from appeals to charity, and henceforward makes 


his living in that way. He loses his self-respect as a worker and 
producer, and gains status and self-respect in the world of pan- 
handlers and grifters, and then works no more. "Only saps work." 

A specific example of a pauperizing situation is the following: 
In 1919, the soldiers were turned loose with sixty dollars dismissal 
pay at that time enough to buy a suit of clothes but no more. 
They received little effective help in their quest for employment. 
Many real disabilities went uncompensated. There was no way 
of doing justice to the veteran in those days, but there were many 
charities and there were many kind-hearted passers-by. This was a 
perfect recipe for producing pauperism. When it becomes known, 
as it did in 1919, that the veterans have not been treated fairly, and 
that many of them are necessitous through no fault of their own, 
great pathos attaches to the veteran's plea. "Buddy, I just got dis- 
charged from the army and I ain't got a job. Can you spare a 
dime for a cup of coffee and a roll?" This is the situation most 
favorable for the would-be panhandler. 

It would not be difficult to prevent such a situation from arising. 
All we need to do is to give the veteran adequate help in the period 
immediately following a war. Such is certainly no more than his 
due. While adequate help, intelligently given, will not pauperize, 
the lack of such help, as experience has shown a thousand times 
over, will pauperize. The kind of help the veteran needs, and 
wants, is the kind that helps people to help themselves. Un- 
fortunately, veterans have not usually received it. 

Those Who Make a Career of Being Veterans 

There are certain men who, after a war, make a kind of pro- 
fession of being veterans. Their stock in trade is their war expe- 
rience, their greatest asset their ability to appeal to the sentiments 
of fellowship among veterans. 

Status as a veteran is useful in poKtics and in certain businesses 
and professions. It is valueless to the farmer, who depends upon 
the bounty of nature and is but little beholden to other men. The 
politician, however, may use his veteran status by running for 
office with the backing of the powerful veterans' organizations, or 
a school administrator may depend upon veteran status as a means 
of gaining and keeping favor. In such businesses as insurance, 


where there is little price competition and everything depends 
upon social contacts, it is a great advantage to be a veteran. It is 
natural that such men, in their public relations, should make a 
great deal of being veterans and should organize their lives around 
that aspect of personality. 

Frequently, the professional veteran is disabled. In such a case 
his honorable wounds and disabilities, however great a personal 
handicap, become a professional asset. Such a man is McGonegal, 
who has made a profession of helping other cruelly wounded men. 
Such a man was the famous Corporal Tanner of G.A.R. days who 
had lost both legs in action and thus made, as Powell remarks, "a 
pathetically impressive appearance as a veteran." Tanner was for 
a time Commissioner of Pensions under President Harrison, and 
though he soon had to be dismissed, he was in office long enough 
to make good on his promise to drive a six-mule team through the 
Treasury in the interest of the veterans. 8 

There is no earthly reason why a veteran, especially a crippled 
one, should not turn his war record to advantage if he can. Often 
the manner in which he does this is entirely praiseworthy, as when 
a disabled veteran spends his time in helping others. Unfortunate 
political results sometimes ensue when the professional, in order 
to consolidate his leadership, persuades other veterans to demand 
things that they do not need. 

" The Lost Generation 3 ': Professional Veterans 

The writers of the so-called "lost generation" were also pro- 
fessional veterans in their way. They capitalized on their war 
experiences by writing books against war. 

The term, "the lost generation," was supposed to have been 
originated by Gertrude Stein, referring particularly to Hemingway, 
and it is one of history's little jokes that a woman of whom the 
general public thinks only in terms of her contributions to gib- 

8 James Tanner (1844-1927), better known as Corporal Tanner, was a famous 
figure among veterans in the last century. At Second Manassas he received a 
wound necessitating the amputation of both legs just below the knees. He 
learned to walk with artificial legs and he studied stenography. He was sum- 
moned to the house where Lincoln lay dying, to take notes on the examination 
of witnesses of the assassination. He became a lawyer, office-holder, perennial 
candidate, and a particularly active lobbyist on behalf of veterans. He was 
very active in the Grand Army of the Republic. 


berish should have coined the best descriptive phrase of the decade. 
The term came to be applied to a whole group of young writers 
who wrote prolifically about their war and post-war experiences. 
Representative of the group were such men as Hemingway, Dos 
Passes, Stallings, E. E. Cummings, Graves, Sassoon, Gibbs, Alding- 
ton, and, among the Germans, Remarque. Vera Brittain told the 
woman's story of the war. 

Profoundly disillusioned about war, these veterans wrote to de- 
clare the truth insofar as it had been given to them to see the truth. 
They cried out de profundis, wrote their books "with their heart's 
blood." Many of them went to war while still quite young, and 
lost their youthful idealism in the blood and muck of battlefields 
and hospitals. They beheld horrors and those horrors shocked 
them into writing some great literature. Several of them were 
wounded or maimed, a reminder that tragedy for the individual 
is sometimes the good fortune of the race. 

Cynicism pervaded the work of the lost generation. That was 
because they started out as idealists; for the cynic, their kind of 
cynic, is merely the disillusioned idealist. They taught that war is 
a great crime, a fraud upon the innocence of the young, a plague, 
a holocaust, a desecration, a pointless slaughter, a meaningless 
catastrophe, and that after the war came nothing good. "The con- 
ditions are that the winner shall take nothing." But when they 
had said that they had told all they knew. Their wisdom carried 
them no farther. 

It is significant that so many of the American representatives of 
the Lost Generation become expatriates. They were that relative 
rarity, refugees from the United States of America, refugees not 
from persecution but from boredom. They were bored with their 
native land and frustrated by it because war had destroyed their 
zest for life, they were tired of virtue because virtue had betrayed 
them. They did not escape boredom by living in Paris or by cul- 
tivating, as so many of them did, the flowers of evil. The lack was 
in themselves. They needed a cause to give meaning to their lives, 
but they were disillusioned about causes, as all members of that 
wasted generation had a right to be, and so they made a sort of 
cause of not believing in causes and bored themselves in the at- 
tempt to be earnestly not in earnest about anything. 

The reaction against war among veterans of World War I was 


strong for a time. The writers of the lost generation symbolized 
and spearheaded that reaction. Even in Germany there were those 
who rallied to the slogan, "Nie Wieder Krieg." (Never war again.) 
The League against War and Fascism, led by the French veteran 
Henri Barbusse, once claimed millions of American members. But 
this group of sincere war-opposers was never more than a minority 
in any nation, albeit a very vociferous minority, and a great many 
members of that minority were among the first to fall in line when 
the drums began to beat a second time. The members of the Lost 
Generation hated war, but certainly not in the way in which the 
Quakers hate it. Hemingway, after his early works debunking war, 
devoted himself to sex, death, and sadism, and finally came around 
in For Whom the Bell Tolls to the point of glorifying a war of 
which he approved. When the time came for the next crusade, 
most of the other writers reversed their pacifistic position of the 
1930s. To the best of our knowledge, Vera Brittain is the only 
member of the group who is a war-objector in the present conflict. 
Hemingway and the other lost but very vocal sheep made a life 
adjustment of publicizing their maladjustment and that of their 
generation. They were nevertheless sincere, and they spoke for a 
great many who lacked their gift of tongues. They spoke for all 
"whom the storm-winds battered." 

The Majority of Veterans Readjust In Time 

The great majority of veterans work out a fairly good adjust- 
ment, usually after a considerable lapse of time and often at con- 
siderable cost. They are acutely maladjusted for a time, then they 
build up habits and sentiments of civilian living, and after a while 
cease to feel maladjusted. But probably habit comes first, and the 
realization of the habit later. 

Veterans who have had combat experience are very likely to dis- 
play some psychoneurotic symptoms at first. Many veterans tell of 
their evil dreams in the first few months after demobilization, when 
all the horrors of the battlefield, successfully exorcised in the day- 
time, come back to haunt them at night. Many have pronounced 
startle reactions and jump violently at sudden noises. After World 
War I many veterans had a strong tendency to fall to the ground 
when they heard noises that sounded like shells. 


By displaying an abnormal apathy or an unexpected intensity of 
emotional reaction, the veteran may show himself out of touch 
with his environment, a very general type of maladjustment even 
among those without front-line experience. A soldier who had 
served only a few months in a training camp returned to his home 
and the next day went down to the railroad station of the small 
town in which his parents lived. While he was there, he saw an 
old man and a little boy start to drive across the tracks in their 
horse and buggy just after a freight train passed by. Suddenly the 
express train roared down on them from the opposite direction. 
It struck them. The civilians screamed and ran about excitedly. 
The soldier, emotionally detached from a situation in which he 
was powerless to help, calmly and curiously observed the spectacle, 
then observed himself and wondered what manner of man he had 
become. Many veterans complain of this failure to find in them- 
selves the proper emotional reactions, or of finding emotions much 
too intense for the occasion. 

Bernard De Voto tells the following story: 

"One afternoon in June of 1919 the parents and the younger 
sister of an ex-soldier met the train that was bringing him home 
from Yaphank. He came slowly down the Pullman steps there 
he was he had the same number of arms and legs he had no 
scars there were strange symbols on his sleeves and shoulders 
and in that heart-pulverizing moment the war was over at last. 
There followed the tears, the half-syllables, the kissing and hugging 
and handshaking which could not even try to express the inex- 
pressible. The family knew that there were no words for what was 
in their hearts and yet, all the way across town in the family Ford, 
they were tensely waiting for him to say something for this magic 
to be distilled in speech. But he had nothing to say. He merely 
sat stiffly, choked with a silence that rapidly grew more frighten- 
ing to his family. Then at a certain corner he stirred a little. The 
family's breath caught, they strained forward, and the soldier said 
accusingly, belligerently, in the tone of one used to giving orders 
'Good God, hasn't Bill Gleeson painted his drugstore yet?' 

"That is one ex-soldier's memory of homecoming. The words 
meant nothing but he has come to understand how and why they 
were discharged in irrational anger at these strangers who sat in 


the Ford with him, at the foreign town he found himself in, and 
at all the aliens he had encountered since he had marched up Fifth 
Avenue with his division in a blizzard of torn paper. The words 
had no significance at all. Except that somewhere between Apre- 
mont and the eastern fringe of the Argonne Forest he had lain 
for some hours in a shellhole with a recently wounded man and 
two men long dead, while German artillery fire moved up and 
down and round about, reaching for him personally. Lying there, 
he had vividly remembered how the paint was scaling from Bill 
Gleeson's store front and how often Bill had said he was going to 
clean it up. While the counter-barrage searched for him he had 
decided that a decent regard for the opinion of mankind required 
Bill to keep that promise. But Bill had not kept it and peace, the 
home town, America had let that soldier down. 

"He has lived to understand also why he was never able to 
explain that trivial irritation to those whom it shocked." 9 

Work helps the soldier to readjust. He forms habits of work 
after a time, and these become a basis of self-respect and dignity. 
Work necessitates social relations and slowly restores the soldier to 
the communicative process of society. 

The family plays a most important part in readjusting the vet- 
eran. Family members make allowances for his mental states and 
help him to find the road back. If he marries and is fortunate 
in his marriage the experiences of marriage and parenthood 
enable him to put his military experience behind him. 

In all of this, it is probable that the veteran works out his 
adjustment on the habit-level first, and only later often much 
later realizes that he has become a thorough-going civilian. Justice 
Holmes the soldier whom the elder Holmes tried so hard to find 
after he had been wounded in one of the battles of the Civil War- 
certainly made a success of his adjustment to civilian living, but 
he is said to have thought of himself also as a soldier throughout 
his life. 

9 Bernard De Voto, "Older than God," in Woman's Day, June 1944. 

Veterans Stick 

Together in 

The Post-War Years 

AN informant has supplied a story concerning the strange 
behavior of a young man newly returned from a war: 
"It was some time during the winter of '37 when I got 
word that Joe was coming home from Spain, where he had been 
fighting with the Loyalists for over two years. Although he and 
his wife had never been intimate friends of mine, I had been tre- 
mendously impressed by the heroic idealism of this young man, 
who had given up a very good job, a wife whom he loved dearly, 
and possibly his professional career. 

"I went down to the dock with some other friends to see him 
as soon as the ship got in. Our greetings were short, at that time, 
because we were all aware of the desire for quiet that he must 
have had and also for privacy with his wife. However, although at 
the time I was surprised beyond words, his wife, who is a psychiatric 
social worker, invited the group of us over to their apartment later 
that very evening. (I realized later that a group of comparative 
strangers was, in some degree, a necessary buffer to absorb the 
high tension and hysteria which must have existed between the 
reunited couple.) 

"They lived in an apartment in Chelsea one large room wil 
a screen at one end, behind which was the kitchenette. When 
entered, there were about twelve or fifteen people in the room. Bui 
I did not see Joe. I asked his wife, Rose, where he was. She 
pointed vaguely to the screen. After a few minutes, I went over t( 
the screen, pushed it aside. There, to my surprise, was Joe witl 
three other Battalion veterans. They were still dressed in some 
what military clothes. (I don't think that the Abraham Lincol] 
Brigade had real uniforms, but I may be wrong.) The one piec 
of apparel which was uniform was the dark beret that they all sti] 
wore in the house, mind you. 

"Their conversation was all: 'Do you remember when,' an< 



'Do you remember the guy that . . . ' And all these men had just 
disembarked together. This was Joe's first evening at home in over 
two years. They stayed huddled behind the screen for the entire 
time I was there, indifferent or frightened by the civilians in the 
living-room proper. At no time was there any feeling of gladness 
at seeing any of the people who had gathered there to greet Joe. 
As a matter of fact, he never came out from behind the screen. 
They stood cramped between a serving table littered with empty 
coca-cola bottles and withered bits of bologna and a sink loaded 
with dirty dishes. 

"It seemed to me at that time that Joe's world was the world 
behind the screen, that all of us waiting to see and talk to him 
his wife included were completely unreal to him, terrifying, unim- 
portant. This was particularly impressive because Joe had always 
been a most out-going man, the type who had always been charm- 
ingly gay, a man who could always be depended upon to keep 
the mood of a group on an enjoyable level. 

"These men were all radicals, idealists. They had not been 
drafted into a war about which they did not know very much. 
They had a high degree of political awareness, so much so that they 
had all been willing to risk everything to go and fight for the 
democracy of a country which meant nothing to them personally. 
And still, even they felt so cut off from the country and the people 
they had left here." 

They Feel at Home Only with Other Veterans 

From the point of view of his wife and his former friends, 
Joe's behavior was most eccentric. It is, however, easily under- 
standable on the basis of what we have learned about veteran 
psychology. Almost by definition, the soldiers of the Abraham 
Lincoln Brigade were men who reacted with unusual violence to 
ideas and who were therefore willing to sacrifice their lives in order 
to win freedom for a foreign land; they could resist Fascism, but 
they could not withstand the impact of the soldier mentality. Joe 
and his companions stuck together because they still felt the old 
solidarity, the comradeship of men at arms, and that feeling out- 
weighed all other obligations. They knew and trusted one an- 
other, but they had little of either liking or respect for civilians; 
even these former talkers and idea-lovers had forgotten how to talk 
to civilians. It is largely this feeling of comradeship toward vet- 


erans, combined with strangeness tinged with hostility toward 
civilians, that causes veterans to stick together in the post-war 

Other factors contribute to cause the veteran to depend on 
other veterans for human companionship. Often he feels that he 
does not receive the recognition he deserves for his military service. 
Naturally, he has expected to be something of a hero upon his 
return. He did not conceive this idea without encouragement from 
others. It has been carefully implanted and tended in his mind. 
To some extent, the community makes good on its promise to 
honor the veteran. . The first soldiers to return receive excellent 
treatment. There are parades and fine speeches for the benefit of 
the young men who have suffered and bled in the training camps. 
But uniforms soon become commonplace. There are many heroes, 
and not enough hero-worshipers to go around. By the time the 
last of the soldiers come home those who have done the real 
fighting their deeds have already been forgotten, or so it seems to 

A hero of the 1918 A.E.F. tells the following story of his return 
to New York City: 

When I came back I had all kinds of stripes on my uniform, 
service stripes, wound stripes, and the insignia of the Fighting 
Sixty-Ninth, Rainbow Division. I thought everyone would 
look at me, the great hero. I'll never forget that first ride in 
the subway. I expected people to show recognition. My uni- 
form told the story of my acts. Well, everyone was busy read- 
ing the paper and no one even looked up. I was really dis- 
appointed. You see I was with the army of occupation and the 
war was over for six months when I came back. We had a 
parade but it was nothing like we had seen in the movies. 
The guys who didn't see action got the great applause. By 
time we got back, the country was fed up with these 
heroes. ... I remember I met a girl I knew and I though 
she would treat me like a hero. She acted as though she had 
seen me the day before. 

LU 0. 





"Patriots," says Vera Brittain, "especially of the female variety, 
were as much discredited in 1919 as in 1914 they had been 
honored." And she adds that perhaps the post-war generation was 
right in believing that "patriotism had nothing to it, and we pre- 


war lot were just poor boobs for letting ourselves be kidded into 
thinking it had." l Other returned soldiers tell approximately the 
same story. 

Even while the war continues, the social status of the soldier 
begins to decline. At the beginning of hostilities, he is welcome 
everywhere; nothing is too good for him. As time goes on, the 
relations between soldiers and civilians become embittered. 
Civilians come to feel that soldiers are an irresponsible and dan- 
gerous element in the populationwhich indeed they sometimes 
are. Soldiers resent the civilian attitude and circulate the bitter 
myth about the park with the sign, "Soldiers and dogs keep off 
the grass." 2 The soldier in training camp cities or the great cities 
where he spends his furloughs is often thrown upon the lower 
elements of the population, the fringe of the underworld. These 
half -world characters cheat him, and he becomes increasingly an- 
tagonistic toward civilians. By the end of the war this alienation 
of the military and civilian elements of the population has gone 
a long way. Then the soldier becomes a veteran a "civilian" him- 
selfand returns to his home, bringing with him the soldier's atti- 
tude toward civilians. 

The fact is that there is no settled and secure place for the 
veteran in American society. In some primitive societies, a boy 
does not become a man until he is also a warrior. In ancient Rome 
and in Sparta every citizen was a warrior and every warrior a citi- 
zen. But in our society the returned soldier has good reason to be 
dissatisfied with his status. He can re-enter the economic order 
only at the bottom, or on the fringes, like a boy of seventeen or 
eighteen. If he returns to school, he must become a pupil again, 
and be subjected to the teacher's whims. In his own family, and in 
other families, his status is problematic, and his elders at least try 
tentatively to regulate his habits and his morals. Very possibly the 
soldier who is a veteran of hard campaigns is still too young to 
vote. Glory compensates for some of these things, but after a while 
the supply of glory runs short. 

Or it may happen that the veteran returns to a community where 
the old and young are already at odds, and this fact accentuates 

l Vera Brittain, Testament of Youth. Macmillan, 1933, p. 490. 

2Vagts notes that "Even after 1815, under a regulation dating from the days 
of Charles II, soldiers remained excluded from public parks and gardens in 
London." Alfred VajKts, A Histoiy of Militarism. Norton, 1937, p. 155. 


his difficulty in building a satisfactory set of social relationships 
with persons who are not veterans. In many American commun- 
ities, the different generations wage unceasing warfare on the sub- 
ject of recreation. In our society we condone vices only in the old 
who can get no pleasure from them. We forbid the young to 
cultivate them. But the restless young, who have not as yet gained 
a stake in the moral order, demand to be amused, and they con- 
stantly find amusements of which their elders disapprove. Into 
such a situation the veteran returns with his frantic search for 
pleasure. He joins the unassimilated and ungovernable younger 
group in rebellion against the elders. The split between the war 
generation and the older age groups may persist for years. After 
World War I this cleavage was symbolized by widespread disap- 
proval among older persons of the goings-on at American Legion 
conventions. Now that Legion members have grown older, their 
conventions have become rather tame affairs, to which members 
take their wives, and there is no longer any popular disapproval. 

Veterans Are Immigrants in Their Native Land 

The task of assimilating the veteran into the community is one 
of reincorporating him in the communicative process, placing him 
economically in such a way as to make the best use of his abilities, 
tying him down by membership in the family and other groups, 
and arranging for him to take his part in the political deliberations 
of the community. When the veteran returns to the civilian world, 
his situation is much like that of the immigrant. In fact, the 
veteran is a sort of immigrant in his native land. He is like the 
immigrant because he has no sure and settled place in society 
and because he derives many, if not most, of his social satisfactions 
from the company of others of his own kind; partly because he 
prefers their society and partly because he does not fit in anywhere 

The analogy with the immigrant suggests that the tendency of 
veterans to stick together for a time is not altogether unhealthy. 
Paradoxical as it may seem, the best way for veterans to establish 
relations with the rest of society may be for them to cling to their 
own group, to cleave to their own kind, for a while. The society 
of veterans will thus furnish a sort of causeway leading to normal 


social relations, and the veterans will most quickly attain the goal 
of normal community relations if they make haste slowly. 

Our experience with immigrants demonstrates clearly that groups 
of aliens tend to be assimilated together, and that it is best that 
it should be so. Early students of immigration were often con- 
cerned over the fact that many immigrants cling to their native 
culture, settle in their own cultural islands, develop their own 
institutions, have their own banks, schools, churches, social and 
business associations and even their own newspapers. In this way 
they seem to resist assimilation. Many persons still believe that it 
would be better if these immigrants gave up their old culture at 
once and immersed themselves immediately in the main currents 
of American life. However, studies of immigrants have repeatedly 
shown that a period of clinging to the old culture is useful, and 
that the associations of the foreign-born with each other supply 
a bridge to American society. It is obviously better to have a 
foreign language paper in which the foreign-born can read about 
American political struggles and become familiar with other 
American ideas than for the native-born to be completely unable 
to communicate with the immigrants. Furthermore, these foreign 
colony institutions lessen the degree of personal disorganization in 
the immigrant. The priest and the elders of the community must 
speak to the immigrant in his native tongue if they are to reach 
him at all, and even his economic adjustment may be easier if he 
makes it in the company of his countrymen. 

The analogy with veterans is clear. We must attempt to assimi- 
late the veterans in groups as well as individually. If veterans 
form their own organizations, which they have a great penchant 
for doing, then those organizations can be incorporated into the 
pattern of community life and the veterans with them. Opposition 
to the veterans' organizations, which has arisen so often in the 
past, will not prevent those organizations from existing but it may 
alienate the veteran group from the rest of society. 

A further clue furnished by the immigrant analogy concerns the 
importance of participation in assimilation. We have learned that 
the key to the assimilation of the immigrant is participation. Here 
the contrast between European and American methods of assimila- 
tion is illuminating. In Europe embittered struggles have taken 
place for many generations over just one issue, Who is to oppress 


whom? When one nation has conquered and annexed another, 
it has often tried to annihilate the culture of the subject people, 
that is, to assimilate the conquered people by force to the people 
of the conquerors. If one thing is clear from the study of history, 
it is that such methods do not work. The Poles have been Ger- 
manized and Russianized for many generations, but they remain 
Poles, the Czechs are stubbornly Czech no matter what the language 
of their conquerors. In America, none of that. No force. Oppor- 
tunity. We allow our immigrants to be as foreign as they wish, 
but we insist that their children be educated and we permit them 
to send their children to the public schools. If aliens desire to do 
so, they may become citizens and vote in our elections, but no one 
forces them to take this step. If immigrants organize themselves 
into associations, our politicians will bargain with those associa- 
tions and thus persuade a whole new group of foreign-born to par- 
ticipate in American life. And so it comes about that a free country 
albeit corrupt and materialistic accomplishes without planning 
or effort what European despotisms have always been unable to do. 
With the veteran also, participation is the royal road to assimi- 
lation. Let him organize! Let him make his demands and sug- 
gestions! No doubt he will sometimes be unreasonable as who is 
not? nevertheless he will have begun to argue and to participate. 
The ideal outcome would be a gradually widening sphere of par- 
ticipation for the veterans and their organizations. Starting with 
themselves and their own concerns, such as veterans' relief and the 
care of the disabled, the veterans would naturally tend to widen 
their interests through the years, and would soon find themselves 
participating in wide areas of civilian life. This is the method of 
assimilation through participation, the method of a free and demo- 
cratic society. 

Politically, the 
Veteran Is a 
Damoclean Sword 

ACTION and reaction are equal and opposite: What the vet- 
eran does to society is the natural consequence of what 
society has done to him. The veteran is politically dan- 
gerous because army life has given him attitudes that are incon- 
sistent with participation in the normal sort of political life. 

Politics is conflict. Every state is at all times an arena of conflict, 
a struggling confusion of parties, classes, interests, religions, races, 
and cultures contending for power. The boundaries of the state 
are determined in conflict; a state may in fact most properly be 
defined as merely a discrete power system. The uses of state power, 
the limits of state power, the precedents of justice are all decided 
not by principles, in the last analysis, but by force or the threat 
of force. All politics is power politics: there is no other kind. 

Conflict the soldier can understand, as can the veteran. It is easy 
for the veteran to hear, with Justice Holmes, the roar of bargain 
and of battle. 

Politics is conflict and compromise. Not often in politics do we 
pursue an advantage to the uttermost. We temper the exercise of 
power with concessions on the part of the strong to the weak; as 
the Chinese have it, we try not to break the other man's rice bowl, 
and we sometimes say it is politic to behave so. Justice is not 
merely, as Thrasymachus believed, the interest of the stronger, 
but the interest of the stronger in interaction with the interest of 
the weaker. We usually stop short of ruthlessness because we need 
the other person; we need his labor and his good will. Hence we 
do not attempt to destroy him completely but merely to bend him 
to our uses: we compromise with him. And therefore politics, 
with its derivatives of law, justice, charters, and constitutions, 



nearly always involves compromise. In normal times, the art of 
politics is largely the art of compromising or accommodating con- 
flicts in such a way as to satisfy as large a number of persons as 
possible. A politician is merely a person who is expert in making 
such arrangements. 

Compromise is hard for the veteran to comprehend or to prac- 
tice. Especially in the lower ranks, army life does not allow wide 
latitude for compromise. Tolerance of certain very minor differ- 
ences, possibly, but no compromise between groups or interests, 
no bargain, no give-and-take between the soldier's will and the 
army's commands. 

Veterans Believe in Action Not in Talk 

Most of all, politics is argument. Argument is fighting with 
words, with symbols of morality and of principles. Argument is 
winning a man's consent by the manipulation of verbal counters, 
beating down his resistance with words and logic. Politics is argu- 
ment, the endless talk, talk, talk, of the parliamentarians, the talk 
that delays action and atrophies the muscles of the executive arm. 
But it is talk in which everything gets considered, the needs of the 
many along with the desires of the few. 

For argument, the soldier, even the highest soldier, is often in- 
capacitated. In the army world, it is not necessary to win a man's 
consent by talk or argument; only the words of command, and 
those stylized into unrecognizability, are necessary in a military 
system. Argument is taboo; one cannot argue about orders. The 
soldier cultivates the pure act and loses "the habit of the word." 

History is full of great soldiers who lacked the faculty of using 
words in argument. Moses, though keen in military matters, was 
slow of speech, with the result that he had to depend unduly upon 
Aaron, the civilian expert in public relations. Grant was taciturn, 
Haig notoriously inept in speech. Vagts notes that "Foch used to 
express himself 'by vehement discharges, like machine-gun ex- 
plosions, riddling the interlocutor with a hail of short phrases, 
violently elliptical and one might say apocalyptical.' Akin to him 
was Kitchener, with his 'rambling and cryptic discourses,' and 
Manteuffel, the Chief of the Prussian Military Cabinet, of whom 
it was said 'his knowledge is extremely small, but the little he 


knows he knows for certain.' " * Even the great Napoleon, on the 
18th Brumaire, stammered and hesitated before the assembly that 
he had come to dissolve and had to be rescued by his brother 
Lucien, the parliamentarian, a phenomenon which Vagts explains 
by saying that "The only words at the instantaneous service of the 
officer being those of command, he is not facile in speaking from 
the platform." 2 In fact the military man has lived too long in the 
world where the private will of the individual does not count, 
where no one consents or wins consent but everyone takes or gives 
orders, and he no longer remembers, if he ever had an occasion to 
master them, those arts by which one gains the support of others 
by winning them to one's own way of thinking. That was why 
Wellington, when he became Prime Minister, was found to be, as 
Guedalla notes, "defective in the minor art of persuasion." 

Officers and soldiers feel themselves above argument with its un- 
avoidable delays and compromise with its necessary hypocrisies. It 
is action that counts for the soldier; in war it is often better to do 
something foolish than to do nothing at all. The soldier learns to 
act somehow, and quickly, even though what he does may be wrong. 
Again and again, all through the ages, one reads of the soldier's 
opinion of politicians, who must live and die by another code: 
Politicians are talkers not doers, mere time-wasters; they are hypo- 
critical and dishonest because they do not say what they mean or 
do what they say. For compromise and argument, which are the 
essence of politics, usually involve some pretence and hypocrisy. 
For these things the soldier has no talent and with them no pa- 

It is difficult for the veteran to comprehend the utility of the 
long discussions of civilian politics. Clemenceau once attempted 
to explain the matter to Boulanger: "Since it is necessary to tell 
you, these same discussions which astound you constitute our 
honor. They prove above all our eagerness to defend the ideas 
which we believe just and fertile. These discussions have their in- 
conveniences, but silence has more. Yes, glory to the countries 
where one speaks! Shame to the countries where one is silent 1" 3 

When the veteran, the army-made man, returns to civilian so- 

1 Alfred Vagts, A History of Militarism, Norton, 1937, p. 327. 

2 Ibid., p. 326. 

3 Quoted in ibid., p. 325. 


ciety, he understands conflict perfectly, compromise less well, dis- 
cussion and argument hardly at all. He wants action, dislikes talk, 
distrusts talkers. He is intolerant of the hypocrisies without which 
politics is impossible. That is enough to make the veteran politi- 
cally dangerous, but there are yet other reasons why veterans so 
often disturb the peace of society. 

Let us admit that the veteran, this man disgusted with politics 
and impatient of argument, has a real, a just grievance indeed, 
a whole series of grievances. Without that admission we cannot 
properly understand, evaluate, or predict the veteran's behavior. 
He comes to believe that he has been swindled, and that belief 
is rarely without some foundation in fact. We have induced him 
to risk his neck for patriotism, but allowed others to get rich from 
his sacrifices. A nation like ours wages war on the basis of an un- 
spoken truce; while the men are fighting we suppose there will be 
a truce in all our little wars of classes and interests and races and 
religions and political parties. But there is never any ceasing in 
these wars and thereby the soldier knows he is betrayed. We have 
imposed upon the soldier's innocence and generosity; we have taken 
his youth and given him the memory of horrors; we have taken 
everything from him and left others at home to get along the 
better because he is away. To get his consent to be a soldier, we 
have promised everything, but usually given very little. As a meas- 
ure of the swindle perpetrated on the soldiers, we should remem- 
ber that the United States has never yet taken adequate care of the 
disabled in the years following a major war, and it has never given 
its recently demobilized soldiers of any war before the present one 
any real help in the task of readjusting themselves to civilian life. 
As the veterans said in 1919, "They said when we went away that 
when we came back nothing would be too good for us, and when 
we came back that was just what we got, nothing." 

They Can Become Politically Dangerous 

The veteran is dangerous to society not only because he is em- 
bittered but because, through circumstances over which he has no 
control, he lacks a stake in the social order. Like the I.W.W. of 
former years, he is, upon his return to society, the jobless, woman- 
less, voteless man. He has no job; he has lost his habits of work; 


he has developed attitudes that unfit him for many occupations; 
and he has not even the civilian's adjustment to his own standard 
of living. Family, wife, children, neighbors, local community, 
lodge, church, and school have less hold upon the veteran who 
has long been away from them than upon ordinary men. Possibly 
very much to his regret, the veteran lacks the attitudes that would 
make such things meaningful to him in the usual way. 

By reason of his military service, the moral and political ideas 
of the veteran differ from those of the balance of society. He is 
disillusioned about words and men of words; he is immune to many 
of the words to which civilians respond and thus beyond the con- 
trol of those who make their living by using such words. He is not 
interested in certain of the finer moral distinctions, although he 
admires forcefulness and bravery and loyalty. 

The veteran is politically dangerous because he has a great 
deal of hatred to work off. By making him into a soldier, we have 
carefully cultivated his sadistic-aggressive impulses, taught him to 
fight and to kill without mercy, and then done him a series of in- 
justicesshould we then be surprised that he fights back? The vet- 
eran is accustomed to direct action but not to discussion; he has a 
pronounced aversion to discussion. He feels intensely but not in- 
telligently, intensely because he has suffered, unintelligently be- 
cause his political education stopped when he entered the army. 
He is not afraid to take risks; he has been shot over. He is hard 
enough to do whatever he feels he wants or needs to do, to beat 
up pacifists and radicals, lynch Negroes, or assassinate the men 
who made the peace of which he disapproves. 

In a post-war period, the major political force is the veteran's 
anger. He is full of anger, needs something to hate, something to 
fight, something to protest against. Hatred, as we know, is of all 
the emotions the most easily transferred from one object to an- 
other. Therefore many people try to tell the veteran whom and 
what he should hate. The politicians struggle for the privilege of 
riding this whirlwind. When it has been decided whom the vet- 
eran of this war shall hate labor, capital, radical, reactionary, 
Jew, Catholic, Negro, immigrant, isolationist, internationalist, 
pacifist, militarist, imperialist, Anglophile, Russophile when it is 
decided which of these he shall hate, then it will be possible to 
write the political history of the next twenty-five years. 


Full of danger for him and for the world is the fact that if 
the veteran fails in the competitive process of society he has a per- 
fect excuse for his failure, and the worse his failure the better is 
his excuse. From the nature of the case, a great number of com- 
petitors, whether soldiers, veterans or life-long civilians, must fail in 
the competition of life. If the veteran fails he can put the blame 
on his military service. The more of a failure he makes, the greater 
becomes his claim upon society. That is the why of bonus armies 
and of demands for adjusted compensation and pensions and vet- 
erans' preference on the WPA. 

Demagogues Will Try to Make Them into Stormtroops 

Veterans are highly organizable. Organization takes place spon- 
taneously if it is not planned. Veterans understand veterans; they 
need one another. They yearn to talk of exciting incidents by flood 
and field and to tell sad stories of the deaths of heroes. They have 
lost their sense of solidarity and of comradeship, their cause, and 
they are eager to recapture them. They need a cause in which to 
lose themselves and find their souls, but they are politically unedu- 
cated and therefore often unable to discriminate between good 
causes and bad ones. They are accustomed to identify themselves 
and their interests with the larger group and are inclined to be- 
lieve that whatever veterans want is good for society. They have 
suffered real injustice, and can easily bring themselves to believe 
that they are entitled to anything they can get. 

For these reasons the veteran is the ready tool of the demagogue 
who talks against talk and promises direct action. Often these 
demagogues who lead veterans are exceedingly cynical men to 
whom pity and humanity are abhorrent. Spendius, Matho, Cati- 
line, Rohm, Goring, Hitler, Mussolini there is no accident in the 
fact that these men have been the leaders of veterans. 

The veteran can be the tool not only of the demagogue who 
talks against talk, but of the "undercover" demagogue as well. 
According to the New York Post's "Undercover Reporter," the Ku 
Klux Klan "has already started a campaign to win the support 
of a formidable army of returning servicemen." The May 16, 1944, 
issue of The Post describes part of the Klan's procedure. Although 
it was forced underground because of its menacing activities in 


Detroit during the early days of World War II, and was officially 
disbanded in March, 1943, the Klan continues to operate from its 
secret headquarters in an apparently deserted building in Detroit. 
Harvey Hanson is reported to be the "organizer and brain of the 
underground Klan." 

Significant in this connection is the technique of appealing to 
the returning soldier. According to the "Undercover Reporter," 
the campaign is based on the following plan. The Klan offers a 
free employment service for veterans, presumably with the coop- 
eration of personnel directors of certain Detroit industrial plants. 
Those veterans whom the Klan succeeds in placing (as well as 
others) are solicited for membership by means of the printed 
"creed" of the United Sons of America, the organizational name 
under which the Klan openly operates. The creed advocates not 
four but eleven freedoms, including freedom of collective bargain- 
ing, and freedom from persecution because of race, color, or creed. 
"Several articles of this creed are designed to appeal strongly to 
men who have fought in this war. Any ex-soldier could honestly 
subscribe to every word of this creed, not knowing that these pro- 
fessions of Americanism and Christianity are just the window- 
dressing of an organization that has taken over the Klan oath, the 
Klan's symbol of the fiery cross, and the Klan's vehement hatred of 
Negroes, Catholics, Jews, and aliens." 

The fact that a newspaper has sought out and exposed the 
machinations of one anti-democratic organization, does not mean 
that this organization will suddenly cease functioning or that no 
other organizations of a similar color are actually at work in an 
effort to capture large numbers of veterans. There are doubtless 
more than a few groups busy today with plans of their own, aware 
that the veteran, because of what he is and what he has gone 
through, can be easily captured. And he can indeed be easily cap- 
tured by demagogues if society fails to capture him first for the 
uses of peaceful democratic living. 

The veteran is always a powerful political force, for good or evil, 
because others cannot protect themselves from him. He has fought 
for the flag and has absorbed some of its mana. He is sacred. He is 
covered with pathos and immune from criticism. This pathos is 
enhanced by the customary period of neglect and mistreatment in 
the years immediately after a war; the sufferings of the deserving 


enable the undeserving to collect rich rewards later. The most 
transparent frauds get by, because no one dares to speak against 
the veteran even to prove that he is not a veteran. Congress sus- 
pends its rules and bylaws to pass legislation in the veterans' be- 
half. All this is by no means limited to modern America. Remem- 
ber that even Cicero stayed his tongue when speaking of Sulla's 
veterans who had joined Catiline's conspiracy. 

The amount of disturbance created in society by the veteran 
varies with the nature of society and of the veteran's relation to it. 
Veterans are most dangerous when society itself is most disor- 
ganized. In a solidly integrated and stable society, the veteran 
problem need not be severe. In a society that is in flux or in 
transition, the veteran is certain to be troublesome. The problem 
is worse in a competitive than in a non-competitive society, and 
it is probably worse in a free society than in a despotism. The 
veteran is unquiet and disturbing in proportion to the degree of 
injustice done to him. The mercenary soldier probably makes the 
least troublesome veteran, if he receives his pay, but modern na- 
tions are forced to rely principally upon citizen soldiers. 

When a rapidly changing, even unstable, and highly competitive 
society like the United States practices the levee en masse as we 
have, when there is such injustice in the waging of the war as 
there inevitably has been, when politicians cannot wait until the 
war is decently buried to begin competing for the veteran vote 
who can say what will ensue? America has been very fortunate in 
its veterans so far. They have raised up no Catiline and no Hitler. 
Their worst exaction has been a little petty larceny graft. 

We have been fortunate, so far, but will that good fortune con- 
tinue? Let us suppose that at the end of the war the soldiers do 
not find their promised land, the Beulah land flowing with milk 
and honey, but find instead unemployment and neglect. Let us 
suppose that some of the veterans must go hungry, must beg on 
the streets, must sell their Purple Hearts and other medals, must 
wear their army uniform until it dissolves in rags, must walk the 
streets in wind and rain and snow to look for work and to be told 
there is no work by sleek civilians who have obviously done well 
for themselves during the war and have collected a great deal of 
money; and let us suppose that these civilians can still eat and 
drink and dance in the expensive night dubs while the hungry 


soldiers watch them from the outer darkness. ... If then there 
comes a suitable demagogue to lead these veterans and to tell them 
what many already believe that politicians are swindlers and their 
followers are born fools if there comes a demagogue who tells 
them they have been suckers and talks against talk with overpower- 
ing eloquence and he leads these sullen soldiers in a fascist crusade, 
may not our democratic structure which even now totters at length 
collapse? Will the veterans of World War II turn into Storm 
Troopers who will destroy democracy? 

Our Past Attempts 

- and Failures 

to Help the Veteran 

Veterans' Organizations 
Assist Him 
To Readjust 

IT is natural for ex-soldiers to form associations to perpetuate the 
memories of their war, to care for their disabled, and to watch 
over the widows and orphans of fallen comrades. There 
have been hundreds of such organizations in the United States and 
Europe. On the American scene, the three most important vet- 
erans' organizations to date have been the Grand Army of the 
Republic, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the American Legion, 
each of which in its time has exerted great influence upon our 
national life. 

Why Veterans Want Their Own Organizations 

The newly returned veteran is of the race of Ishmael. "And he 
will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every 
man's hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all 
his brethren." Civilians do not understand the veteran. They do 
not sympathize with his strange resentments or approve of his 
rough and violent manners. He has become an alien. 

There are things about the soldier that only soldiers understand. 
The soldier comes home, is happy to see his family, talks to his 
mother and father for a while, enjoys his mother's cooking, lux- 
uriates in a soft bed, rises late with a feeling of sybaritic self-indul- 
genceand then finds to his surprise that what he really wants is 
to see his comrades once again. 

Because he has been so long cut off from the communicative 
process, the ex-soldier is mentally isolated from civilian society; he 
no longer knows how to take his part in it, since he has come to 
lack the necessary emotions, habits, and words. Talk of politics 
irritates him; gossip bores him; newspapers, except for the sports 



section, and the comic strips, leave him apathetic. With all these 
things he has lost the sense of identification and the feeling that 
such things matter. In morality the veteran displays the same dif- 
ferentiation of tastes. He is used to lusty pleasures. 

Because they feel at home with one another and because they 
do not feel at home with anybody else ex-soldiers naturally form 
groups. Here they find solidarity, and live over again the significant 
experiences of their lives. For others, the war is over. For the vet- 
eran, the war is never quite over. He has left his youth in it. Be- 
sides, the army is in his blood, and he has a need for "belonging" 
and for regimentation, that he never outgrows. 

Probably nothing could prevent ex-soldiers from forming small, 
like-minded groups to cultivate the verdant growth of memory. It 
is a safe bet that the veterans who stormed Jericho and the mem- 
bers of Gideon's band had their annual reunions, with parades and 
the , blowing of rams' horns. It is equally inevitable that such 
groups should sometimes be formalized by organization. Small 
groups of veterans have probably always arisen spontaneously, al- 
though the emergence of large, national organizations had to wait 
for the development of the idea of mass honor, which was largely 
a notion of the nineteenth century. 

Some kind of organization of veterans is inevitable because hu- 
man beings are always reaching out to find something that might 
save their lives from utter meaninglessness. The need for such fel- 
lowship is so great that people will form associations to commem- 
orate almost anything: the event does not need to be significant. 
There is an association in New York to cultivate the memory of 
the blizzard of 1888, and it held a meeting in 1944 at which a 
famous Arctic explorer told how to avoid death in a snow-storm. 
The great blizzard was a little touch of nature, which made the 
whole world kin, it gave people a feeling of solidarity, and the 
survivors organized so that they would not lose their hold upon 
this thing that added richness to their lives. 

When, for whatever reasons, an association has been formed, 
certain consequences ensue from the fact of organization. The per- 
sons who belong to an association have some trait or interest in 
common. The natural consequence of organization is to give very 
special importance to the common trait. 1 The trait that veterans 

lAn interpretation suggested by Frank Tannenbaum's analysis of the prison 


have in common is that they once defended their country by force 
of arms. The trait that comes to the fore in veterans' organizations 
is patriotism, not the patriotism of the advanced thinker but the 
patriotism of the common man; not the patriotism of the person 
who loves all mankind and is a patriot of every nation but his own. 
It is the soldier's patriotism that these organizations catch up and 
institutionalize, and the soldier is a man who loves his country as 
it is and fights to defend it from harm. It is natural that such organ- 
izations should turn out to be foci of militant and patriotic con- 
servatism, that they should be more interested in defending the 
Constitution than in understanding it, and that the man who has 
fought to defend the country from external enemies should often 
end by defending it from change. 

Certain ills characteristically attack organizations and to these 
ills the organizations of veterans are by no means immune. Indi- 
viduals sometimes use organizations as a springboard to their own 
personal advancements. Members of the group may come to think 
of their organization as a sort of conspiracy for the advancement 
of their own interests at the expense of non-members. Members 
may hold too tightly to the original purpose of the organization 
when that purpose should be modernized, or they may forget their 
purpose while it still has a living meaning. Organizations may 
compete, each fighting to become the biggest and best, and the 
real interests of members may be injured in such a scramble. And 
schemers, of course, may pervert any organization to their own 

Positive gains for society, on the other hand, are inherent in 
nearly every kind of formalized association. When a group has at- 
tained formal organization, it must make its compromises with the 
society that tolerates its existence and sanctions its activities. Thus 
the sect becomes a denomination, the gang a sort of political party, 
the cellar club a harmless association of adolescents. These com- 
promises bring to the fore a socially acceptable, compromising sort 
of leader. As the group widens its participation, its members par- 
ticipate groupwise in the life of the community, thus at once forc- 
ing and being forced, pushing and being pulled, in the process of 
readjustment to society. 

This is the rationale of veterans' organizations. Veterans will 
form their societies and organizations whether civilians approve 


them or not. They always have and they always will. Such groups 
respond to the veteran's inner needs. They help him to find the 
road back to normal social participation. Tolerate, recognize, and 
guide such groups and they become socially useful. Oppose them, 
alienate them, antagonize them, force them underground and they 
become dangerous. 

Some Earlier Veterans' Organizations 

The Order of the Cincinnati was formed by American officers 
in April, 1783, with the approval of the highest authorities of the 
army. It was composed of officers of the Army and Navy, and was 
originally intended to carry hereditary distinction, the title passing 
to the eldest son. French officers who had fought with the Amer- 
icans were eligible for membership. Lafayette and von Steuben 
were active and popular members. 

The original plan of the Cincinnati aroused widespread criticism. 
Benjamin Franklin made fun of it in his own inimitable way, tak- 
ing the hereditary principle apart in a famous letter in which he 
set forth arguments later copied by the writers of the French Rev- 
olution; Franklin even took time to pay his respects to the eagle. 
Samuel Adams also attacked it severely, and John Adams thor- 
oughly disapproved it. The legislators of Massachusetts passed a 
resolution against the organization, and Rhode Island disfranchised 
its citizens who were members. There was also great opposition in 
South Carolina. Popular feeling against the Cincinnati as a self- 
constituted nobility became so intense that the hereditary principle 
had to be abandoned. 

But the political influence of the order remained great through- 
out the lives of its members. It set an example for its successors by 
pressing the demands of the veterans for pensions and other bene- 
fits. Since its members were officers, its influence was on the side of 
aristocracy. In fact, monarchical sentiment and other counter-revo- 
lutionary tendencies were strong in the Cincinnati. It may be sig- 
nificant that this least tolerated and most opposed of American 
veterans' organizations was the most undemocratic in its policies. 

After the Napoleonic wars, British officers of both army and 
navy founded the United Service Club in 1817. Organiza- 
tions of common soldiers came later, not until the extinction of 


feudalism had made it possible for the idea of mass honor to 
emerge. The Prussian government in 1842 authorized the forma- 
tion of Kriegervereine or Warrior's Societies. These proved an im- 
portant adjunct to Prussian militarism, being dominated by con- 
servative classes and thus contrasting sharply with the Schutzvereine 
or Riflemen's Associations, which carried on the ancient traditions 
of the militia and were more democratic in nature. In Japan or- 
ganizations of veterans were even more closely integrated into and 
controlled by the military system. 2 

The Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) 

The Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union 
veterans founded directly after the Civil War, held its first meet- 
ing in 1866. It was an organization of all the soldiers of the Union, 
privates as well as officers. General John A. Logan, an early G.A.R. 
commander-in-chief, stated the purpose of the organization, to 
"commemorate the gallantry and sufferings of our comrades, give 
aid to bereaved families, cultivate fraternal sympathy among our- 
selves, find employment for the idle, and, generally, by our acts 
and precepts to give the world a practical example of sincere, 
kindly cooperation." 

When the student of history thinks of the G.A.R., he usually 
thinks of pensions, for it was the G.A.R. that gave the first demon- 
stration of the feasibility of raids on the Treasury by veterans' 
organizations. At first the organization did not prosper, and for a 
time it even seemed to be in danger of extinction. When, in the 
seventies, it began to campaign actively for pensions, it caught the 
interest of the veterans, though it counted only some 60,000 on its 
rolls. The Arrears Act of 1879 helped the pension drive to acquire 
momentum, and stirred the veterans' interest in the G.A.R. From 
1881, a standing committee of the organization sat with Congres- 
sional committees. Soon the G.A.R. reached a point where it could 
state its requests to Congress as demands; it did not need to come 
begging, cap in hand. A gag rule was enacted that prevented posts 
in disagreement with the official policy of the organization from 
expressing their disagreement publicly. When, in 1893, the Noah 
Farnham Post Number 458 of New York protested against pen- 

2 Alfred Vagts, A History of Militarism. Norton, 1937, pp. 386 ff. 


sion grabs, the post was disciplined and its members were subjected 
to scurrilous attacks. Official propaganda of the organization was 
put forward by the National Tribune, edited and controlled by 
George E. Lemon, a Washington pension attorney. 

The G.A.R. reached its membership peak in 1890, when it had 
on its rolls 409,000 members, or more than half of those eligible 
for membership. 3 This was twenty-five years after the end of the 
war. In 1880, fifteen years after the end of the war, its membership 
was only 60,654. After 1890, membership slowly declined, but the 
organization retained a political power out of proportion to its 
numbers. Like other such organizations, it had its assorted aux- 
iliaries through which it carried on certain activities and both ex- 
tended and prolonged its power. 

The natural affinity between pensions and high tariffs became 
most apparent in the years following the Civil War. The tariff 
policy of the Republican Party produced a treasury surplus, which 
might have been disturbing in its political and economic effects if 
some genius had not had the idea of paying out the surplus moneys 
to the veterans. The veterans, naturally, favored this scheme and 
were ready to give their support to the party which so befriended 

The position of the Republican Party, and of the pensioners, be- 
came very strong. It was the party of the Union, the party that 
championed the soldiers, entitled in every election to wave the 
bloody shirt, bloodied and torn, of course, in the process of putting 
down the "Democratic Rebellion." The veterans not only voted 
for the Republican Party, but protected it from the danger of ever 
having a surplus in the treasury. Over both veterans and politicians 
the owners of protected industries watched with a benignant eye, 
while William Graham Sumner, breaking his bitter old heart in 
the struggle to convince people that the tariff was a tax that made 
everybody poor and enriched no one correspondingly, turned at 
length from the study of Political Economy, which assumes that 
human beings are rational, to the study of Sociology, where no such 
assumption is necessary. 

3 Gellermann's figures, in William Gellermann, The American Legion as 
Educator. Bureau of Publications, Teachers College, Columbia University, 1938. 
General Alger, one-time Commander in Chief, stated that "On June 30, 1890, 
the Grand Army of the Republic numbered on its rolls 458,230 men, that it 
had 7,175 posts." 


Driving "a Six-Mule Team Through the Treasury" 

The climax of the drive for Civil War pensions came in the late 
Eighties. In 1888, there were 419,763 active pension awards for the 
Civil War; five years later, in 1893, the number had risen to 935,084, 
which was near the peak. Harrison campaigned for the presidency 
with the felicitous slogan, "Now is not the time to weigh the 
claims of old soldiers with apothecary's scales." Harrison made 
good on his promises to the veterans by appointing the famous 
Corporal Tanner, a professional veteran, as Commissioner of Pen- 
sions. Corporal Tanner was a veteran who had lost both legs in 
action. An active proponent of pensions, he had gained prominence 
in the organization in the early seventies. When he was made Com- 
missioner, he announced that he was going to "drive a six-mule 
team through the treasury," adding, "God help the surplus!" He 
granted pensions and increases with such a free hand that he had 
to be removed in 1889, after only a few months in office, but he 
was not removed until he had made good his designs on the treas- 
ury surplus, nor were the pensioners added during his regime ever 
stricken from the rolls. 

Whatever the results of these policies upon the economy, they 
furnished rich pickings for the pension agents. At one time there 
were more than 60,000 registered pension attorneys, their permis- 
sible fee for each case being originally ten and later twenty-five 
dollars. George Lemon, publisher of the pro-pension National 
Tribune, was probably the most successful of these agents. In 1885, 
years before the high point of pension claims, he admitted that he 
had in his files 125,000 pension claims. 

The G.A.R. practiced pressure politics long before the term be- 
came popular. It had its way of defeating officials who opposed 
the demands of the veterans' bloc, as Grover Cleveland learned to 
his sorrow. But in spite of its most persistent efforts, the G.A.R. did 
not succeed in obtaining any really effective guarantee of veterans' 
preference in the civil service system of the United States. Powerful 
committees lobbied with great persistence until 1903, Lemon's 
Tribune thundered and threw mud, and in 1900 some 1287 posts 
sent petitions to Congress all without avail. Congress never be- 
came convinced that the majority of the members of the G.A.R. 


wanted veterans' preference in the civil service. 4 The G.A.R. 
was, however, successful in obtaining veterans' preference laws in 
many states, and in fact probably obtained the results it desired 
in the federal service through its political power, which gave it 
control over many appointments. 

Though no doubt its major concern was pensions, the G.A.R. 
did not entirely neglect its other objectives. In accordance with 
the standards and customs of the time, it gave its support to insti- 
tutions caring for the orphans of deceased veterans. In Pennsyl- 
vania there was, from 1864 on, a great proliferation of these insti- 
tutions, for which, according to a contemporary writer, the G.A.R. 
deserves much of the credit: 

In resisting the narrowing and belittling of the undertaking, 
while no set of men can claim the exclusive honor, the soldiers 
of the late war may justly demand a preeminence. Especially 
is this true of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organiza- 
tion composed of the honorably discharged veterans of the 
war for the suppression of the rebellion. To perpetuate the re- 
membrances of that struggle, to keep alive the friendships 
which were formed amid common hardships and dangers, and 
to cherish a love for the Union of the respective States for 
which they fought and bled, are some of the objects of its 
existence. And among other obligations of mercy, the mem- 
bers of this brotherhood are pledged to extend aid, when 
necessary, to the unfortunate families of their comrades who 
were slain and crippled in battle. Fidelity to their vows, quick- 
ened by a remembrance of the dead and a regard for the liv- 
ing, have placed these banded warriors foremost in the sup- 
port of that system which provides a home and a school for 
those whom they are obligated to defend and protect. By 
their numerical strength, and by their social and political 
standing, they have been enabled so to shape legislative action 
as to obtain favorable results. Not only has the Grand Army 
been ready to exert its powerful influence in favor of securing 
ample appropriations for the support of the schools, but it has 
also heartily favored every enlargement of the State's liberality 
to the orphans. 

It is largely due to its influence that provisions have been 

4 C/.. Paul Joseph Woods, The G.A.R. and Civil Service. Abstract of a 
Doctoral Dissertation at the University of Illinois. Urbana. Illinois. 1914. 


made to aid the pupils, after completing their term at the 
schools, to continue their studies at the normal schools of the 
State. Members of the order, as well as those who had imme- 
diate charge of the children, had repeatedly been pained by 
seeing earnest and promising students, on arriving at the age 
of sixteen years, sent away and their student-life suddenly 
ended, too often never to be resumed . . . Deeply impressed 
with this fact, the members of the organization deemed it a 
duty to see that some provision was made for this class of 
orphans. They accordingly made known their wishes to the 
Superintendent, who, heartily concurring in their views, asked 
and obtained of the Legislature in 1872 an appropriation of 
two thousand dollars to assist a limited number of the most 
worthy pupils, who had completed their term at the orphan 
schools, to further pursue their studies at the State normal 
schools. It is also largely due to the same influence that the 
normal school fund was subsequently increased and made per- 
manent. 5 

By the end of 1876 admissions to these Pennsylvania schools 
totaled 8,277, of which 2,772 represented children still in institu- 
tions. While we do not now regard institutional care as the best 
solution for the problem of dependent children, we should not 
forget that these institutions were a great advance over previous 
methods of child care, and that they were conducted in accordance 
with the best practices of the time. 

The attitude of the Union soldier, and of the G.A.R., toward 
the Confederate soldier went through a series of transformations, 
changing from the curious kindliness of the years of combat to 
vindictiveness in the post-war years, then at length mellowing, if 
not to friendliness, at least to something much more positive than 
forgiveness in the 1880s. 6 In 1884, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Junior, 
described the war-time attitude of the soldiers as follows: 

You could not stand up day after day in those indecisive 
contests where overwhelming victory was impossible because 
neither side would run as they ought when beaten without 
getting at least something of the same brotherhood for the 
enemy that the north pole of a magnet has for the south each 

5 James Laughery Paul, Pennsylvania's Soldiers' Orphan Schools. Harrisburg, 
Penna., 1877, pp. 150-151. 

6 This story is well told by Paul Buck in The Road to Reunion, 1865-1900. 
Little Brown, 1937, Chap. X, "The Veteran Mind," pp. 236 ff. 


working in an opposite sense to the other, but each unable to 
get along without the other. 7 

But in the years immediately after the war this attitude changed; 
perhaps, one may suppose, because the veteran's inevitable bitter- 
ness had in this case been re-deflected against the enemy. Grant, 
after giving generous terms to Lee, changed to harshness toward 
the beaten South; other veterans also forgot their sympathy with 
the Confederate soldier as soon as he ceased to be an enemy. For 
years the G.A.R. maintained watch and surveillance over all that 
pertained to the war. It supported committees to examine school 
textbooks, especially in history, to eliminate textbooks that failed 
to present the war in its true light, and to deplore the absence in 
some of the books of words like "treason" or "rebellion." 

In the 1880s veterans of both the Blue and the Gray began to 
mellow. In 1882 the G.A.R. held its annual encampment in Balti- 
more, where it was well received; Confederate veterans marched 
with them that year. In the eighties these "Blue and Gray reunions" 
became frequent. The greatest of these was probably the twenty- 
fifth anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, when the men who 
had tried to kill each other twenty-five years before, met as friends 
and comrades, an event not often paralleled in history since the 
rape of the Sabine maidens. When Grant died, Confederate gen- 
erals served with Union officers as pallbearers at the funeral. Such 
gestures, in which veterans took the lead in reconciliation, did 
much to heal the wounds of the Civil War. 

Confederate soldiers were less free to organize, being under sus- 
picion for some years, and therefore no organization appeared equal 
in scope to the G.A.R. They organized, of course, but on a local 
and restricted basis, and they dominated such secret societies as 
the Ku Klux Klan. Not until 1889 did the Confederate veterans 
found the inclusive organization, the United Confederate Veterans. 

7 Quoted in ibid., p. 236, from the Boston Advertiser, May 31, 1884. 

The American Legion 
Of World War I 

AFTER World War I, a great many organizations competed 
for the favor of the veterans. The American Legion early 
emerged as the most successful competitor, its nearest rival 
being the older and somewhat more exclusive organization, the 
Veterans of Foreign Wars. The Legion now claims to be the largest 
veterans' organization in the history of the world. Since limi- 
tations of space do not permit discussion of all contemporary vet- 
erans' organizations, we shall concentrate on the Legion and omit 
the others, while conceding that these other organizations have 
considerable importance. 

The purposes, programs, and activities of the Legion have been 
subjected to a minute and usually suspicious scrutiny, and it has 
often been condemned, but it has been a dominant force in Amer- 
ican life for two decades. Most of what has been written about the 
Legion has been either panegyric or expose. Neither is justified. 
The Legion, like any other human institution, is neither all good 
nor all bad. 

The American Legion was founded at a three day caucus in Paris, 
beginning on March 15, 1919. Among the leaders of the group were 
Colonel Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., Colonel Bennett Clark, Colonel 
William J. Donovan, and Captain Ogden Mills. These men were 
and are conservatives. They have never made any secret of their 
intention to found an essentially conservative organization. 

From its inception, the Legion was non-partisan; both officers 
and men were enrolled without distinction. Membership was open 
to anyone who had served in the armed forces during World War 
I, and it has now been opened to veterans of World War II. Unlike 
its great rival, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Legion did not 
exclude the training camp veteran. 

The preamble of the American Legion constitution states the 
purpose of the organization: 



For God and country we associate ourselves together for the 
following purposes: 

To uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States 
of America; to maintain law and order, to foster and perpet- 
uate a one hundred per cent Americanism; to preserve the 
memories and incidents of our association in the Great Wars; 
to inculcate a sense of individual obligation to the community, 
state and nation; to combat the autocracy of both the classes 
and the masses; to make right the master of might; to pro- 
mote peace and good will on earth; to safeguard and transmit 
to posterity the principles of justice, freedom, and democracy; 
to consecrate and sanctify our comradeship by our devotion 
and mutual helpfulness. 

Certainly no democratic American can quarrel with these ob- 
jectives. Nor can anyone doubt that the overwhelming majority 
of the members of the Legion sincerely believe in them. Many 
question the right of the Legion to determine the interpretation 
of the Constitution, or Americanism, or the public good. It is at 
this point that controversy begins. 

Gellermann 1 found that the Legion, up to the time of his study, 
reached its highest membership, relatively and absolutely, in 1931. 
The 1,153,909 members of that year represented twenty-seven per 
cent of the potential membership. Four years later the Legion en- 
rollment dropped to twenty per cent of its potential membership. 
The onset of war terminated the period of decline. In recently pub- 
lished literature, the Legion lays claim to more than 1,150,000 
members enrolled in 11,800 local posts. Its claim to being the 
largest veterans' organization in the history of the world is prob- 
ably justified. 

Gellermann's study of the Legion has shown that its members 
are for the most part in comfortable circumstances. A survey made 
for the Legion in 1935 showed that 33.5 per cent of the members 
owned their own businesses. Employed by others but in relatively 
good positions were another 29.7 per cent. Workers, white-collar 

l William Gellermann, The American Legion as Educator. Bureau of Publica- 
tions, Teachers College, Columbia University, 1938. Gellermann's book was 
quite hostile to the Legion, and went so far as to call the Legion fascist and 
unpatriotic. Many of Gellermann's criticisms, however, were based upon the 
liberal philosophy of the Thirties, and would now have to be revised in the 
light of events that have vindicated such Legion policies as preparedness and 
nationalistic education. 


workers, and miscellaneous workers constituted 29.7 per cent, while 
7.1 per cent were unemployed, retired, or on relief. As Gellermann 
puts it, "The average Legionnaire is a business or professional man 
whereas the average American is a wage- worker." Gellermann also 
quotes an estimate by the American Legion Monthly of the year 
1927, placing the average yearly income of the Legionnaire at 
$3,031, in contrast to $1,933 for the year 1920. These indications 
clearly place the great majority of Legion members in relatively 
comfortable circumstances. The dues, however, are small, and we 
should bear in mind that the lower economic groups are not organ- 
izable, or can be organized with great difficulty. Community studies 
have consistently shown that members of the lower economic 
groups are not joiners, while the middle and upper groups are rel- 
atively gregarious. Even the labor unions have been most success- 
ful in organizing the more favorably placed and successful workers. 

The top leadership of the Legion, as Gellermann has shown by 
an extensive analysis, is supplied by a group of well-to-do men. 
National commanders have averaged a little older than other Le- 
gionnaires (average age 36 in 1918). Most of them had previously 
held high commissions in the army. 

While members of the business classes have been very active in 
the Legion, they have not had the field entirely to themselves. The 
organization has had a considerable trade-union membership, with 
certain posts dominated by this group. The Legion has often been 
accused of being anti-labor, which was doubtless true of some local 
posts, but the national organization has maintained cordial rela- 
tions with the American Federation of Labor. Leaders of the 
Legion and the A.F. of L. customarily appear as guest speakers at 
one another's conventions. Relations between the Legion and the 
C.I.O. (Congress of Industrial Organization) have probably been 
less friendly. 

The organizational unit of the American Legion is the local 
post, which is usually named after a local soldier killed during the 
war, often the first to be killed. (No post may bear the name of a 
living person.) In 1937 there were 11,248 posts; there are now said 
to be 11,800. These posts carry on the local program of activities 
and send delegates to regional conventions, which elect officers and 
pass resolutions for the area. Only official delegates from the re- 
gional organization are able to vote at the national convention, but 


many others attend. The organizational set-up is such as to afford 
dissenting posts little opportunity to register their disagreement. 
Like almost every other organization in the world, the Legion 
tends to be ruled by a small group of persons who have been in- 
tensely interested in its internal affairs and its politics over a period 
of years. In this respect the Legion does not differ from a church, 
university, political party, or labor union. 

The Varied Program of the Legion 

The veterans' organization arises, as we have seen, because vet- 
erans come into civilian life almost as immigrants and need the 
society of ex-soldiers as a bridge to normal community adjustment. 
During the early period, the urge is strong to meet in small, face- 
to-face groups to talk over old times and new problems. During 
these years, the activities of an organization find a natural focus in 
the desire of the veterans to help their disabled comrades, to care 
for the dependents of the deceased and the disabled, and to assist 
one another in getting a start in the world. During this period, the 
memory of the war years is still vivid and the comradeship of men 
at arms still strong. After a time, the veterans begin to be better 
adjusted in society; consequently some of them lose interest in 
veterans' affairs. The organization must then cast about to find 
new causes and new bases of unity. As the drive for pensions re- 
vivified the G.A.R., so the desire to provide for the veterans of 
World War II is injecting new life into the American Legion. 

In its early years, the Legion fought hard and successfully for 
the disabled of World War I. Legionnaires discovered shocking 
examples of neglect and mismanagement in everything that per- 
tained to veterans. By 1924 they had achieved their objective and 
reformed the Veterans' Administration. The Legion did this job 
well. It forced the construction of hospitals and the establishment 
of the Veterans' Administration. As Gulp remarks, "It is a tribute 
to the Legion as well as to the Veterans' Administration that the 
affairs of that government body have been handled since 1924 with 
a minimum of attention to politics and a maximum to the prob- 
lems of the disabled." 2 

2 Dorothy Gulp, The American Legion: A Study in Pressure Politics. U. of 
Chicaeo Libraries, 1942. D. 8. 


When Legion posts were being founded, members sometimes 
thought of them as mutual advancement societies. As a veteran who 
helped to found one of the leading posts recently explained to the 
writer, "When we first organized we thought that all of us fellows 
could stick together and do business with each other. We soon 
found out that didn't work. We had to give our business where 
we could get the best price and the best service." They discovered, 
in other words, that business is competitive and one cannot change 
the basis of competition for the sake of sentiment. However, some 
persons whose business is almost wholly a matter of contacts- 
young lawyers and insurance agents, for example might well profit 
from membership in such an organization. This business advan- 
tage sometimes causes such persons to become professional veterans. 

For some years annual conventions furnished a focus for the 
activities of the Legion. Brilliantly organized, planned and exe- 
cuted, they were like gigantic, spectacular college reunions. Like 
such reunions, they furnished a moral holiday for the aging veteran, 
an opportunity to recapture his youth, to claim once more 
the privileges of youth and irresponsibility by being "one of the 
boys" and to obtain a temporary feeling of youthfulness by the 
copious use of spiritus frumenti. While the national conventions 
were great business affairs for which cities competed vigorously, the 
state and regional conventions were also important. Very likely the 
Legion post of Tamaroa, Illinois, got as much pleasure from its 
"Rube Band" that paraded at state and regional conventions as 
other posts did from more expensive displays. The New York con- 
vention of 1938 was the high tide of the pre-World War II Legion. 
However, at the current moment hotel men no longer regard the 
Legion convention as a first-class prize. It no longer draws the free 
spenders; of late years it tends to become "a place where you go 
with a clean shirt and leave with a dirty shirt." All this will change 
again if the Legion enrolls a large group of the veterans of World 
War II. 

Another focus of Legion activities has been the matter of bene- 
fits for veterans. There was the drive for adjusted compensation, 
sometimes called the bonus. It has been the custom of righteous 
citizens to hold up their hands in horror at the mention of the 
bonus, but the thousands of millionaires created by the war and 
the high wages paid to many workers gave the veterans a case. The 


campaign for the bonus supplied, in the early years, a very useful 
outlet for the veterans' bitterness; they might easily have done 
worse things and in European countries they did. The scale of 
benefits was ridiculously low. The drive for the prepayment of the 
bonus, in which the Legion apparently participated reluctantly and 
only after its hand had been forced, was indeed a raid on the 
treasury. But it was mild compared to the raids made by the G.A.R., 
and we should not forget that such pork-barrel legislation is an old 
American tradition. To date the Legion has been much more mod- 
erate than the G.A.R. in its pension demands. It has never driven 
a six-mule team through the treasury, nor ever tried to do so. 

The social and community services of the Legion have received 
less attention than they deserve. In addition to the services to needy 
veterans, which have always been a primary concern, their social 
efforts have often been outstanding contributions to community 
welfare. The child welfare program has been particularly good. 
The Legion began this work in 1925 with a campaign to raise an 
endowment to care for an estimated 30,000 World War I orphans. 
Child welfare work has continued to receive attention since that 
time. According to Legion figures, it has reached 5,900,000 children 
and has cost $50,000,000. Ninety per cent of the children were 
helped in their own homes and kept with their own mothers. The 
Legion has also supported some excellent child welfare legislation. 

The authoritative Social Work Year Book of 1929 evaluated the 
Legion's child welfare program as follows: 

The program of the American Legion is radically different 
from that of any other order in its cooperation with existing 
social agencies and its broad assumption of responsibility for 
child welfare projects. Two of the Legion's state branches have 
very small institutions, but the order has no national institu- 
tion. The national office employs a staff of trained social work- 
ers in five areas of the country, and local Legion posts cooper- 
ate closely with health agencies and social agencies of every kind 
in caring for the children of veterans. Support of welfare legis- 
lation is a major activity, and a relief fund of $100,000 a year 
is administered from national headquarters in Indianapolis as 
temporary aid to cases for which local posts are making per- 
manent plans. 3 

3 C. W. Areson, "Fraternal Orders," in Social Work Year Book, 1929, edited 
by Fred S. Hall and Mabel B. Ellis. Russell Sage Foundation, 1930. See also 
the Social Year Book, 1943, pp. 119 and 609. 


According to Legion spokesmen, "beyond the care and protection 
of children of veterans of World War I or II, the American Legion 
is concerned with all children. Through its example and influence, 
many more family homes have continued to be maintained when 
death and disability remove the breadwinner. Aid to dependent 
children in their own family homes has been increased by Federal, 
State and County Government through the influence of the Amer- 
ican Legion. Maternal and child health aid and services have been 
improved and increased for the benefit of mothers and their chil- 
dren. Community coordinated endeavor has been established to 
help remove the causes of child dependency, neglect, and delin- 
quency." In addition, local posts have engaged in widely diversified 
activities, making gifts to their communities of public parks, play- 
grounds, and swimming pools, furnishing leadership for Com- 
munity Chest drives, and otherwise making themselves useful. 

Education has always been a particular concern of the Legion. 
In conjunction with the powerful National Education Association, 
the American Legion instituted American Education Week in 1921. 
The week idea took on, and by 1924 the Legion had enlisted one 
hundred and forty organizations in its program. At first devoted 
to intensely nationalistic programs, the emphasis was then shifted 
to social conformity in general; still later the content appears to 
have had little supervision by the Legion. 4 

When in 1933 the schools of the country were threatened by 
widespread cuts in the name of economy, J. W. Crabtree, Secretary 
of the National Education Association, appealed to the Legion for 
help. The Legion took a strong stand, and helped to save the school 

Characteristically, Legion posts have been much interested in 
every feature of the school program that has to do with national- 
ism or patriotism. They have conducted ceremonies, donated flags, 
and subsidized essays and historical contests. Their "indirect ap- 
proach" through sports and other activities has been particularly 
effective. Critics of the "indirect approach" would do well to reflect 
that Red Russia is also very fond of sports. In their cultivation of 
the rugged and the manly, Legionnaires have found a congenial 
activity in promoting boxing. Duffield, writing in 1931, noted that 
twelve states had changed their laws to permit boxing, largely as 

4 C/. Gellermann, op. cit., Chap. VIII. 


a result of Legion pressure, and that many Legion posts sponsor 
boxing matches. According to Duffield, in South Dakota, the Legion 
collects a percentage from all matches, while in Mississippi it has 
complete control of boxing. This Legion policy of promoting sports 
is, by the way, based on thoroughly sound psychology. Many mil- 
itary men have recognized the value of sports as preparation for 
war. Sports are, in fact, the great reservoir, as well as the means 
of expression, of the sadistic-aggressive element in our culture. 5 

The Legion and Academic Freedom 

The Legion has on occasion interfered with the academic free- 
dom of teachers. The concept of academic freedom was invented to 
protect advanced specialists in the publication of the results of re- 
search in their fields of study. This is still its most defensible func- 
tion. Truth, relevance, and honesty are the best defences when 
academic freedom is threatened. One may question whether the 
cloak of academic freedom should cover the teacher or writer when 
he is dealing not with facts or research but with propaganda, ad- 
mitting that this distinction is difficult to make in the concrete 
instance. One may also ask whether it should enable the member 
of a revolutionary party, obedient to the orders of party officials 
and somewhat callous to the promptings of his own conscience, to 
propagandize his party line from the vantage point of the public 
school. But here we should note that membership in such a party 
or religious sect, before it could affect the merits of a controversy, 
would have to be established in accordance with the strictest rules 
of evidence. 

It is foolish to suppose that any community will for long support 
with public money a kind of education that undermines its estab- 
lished institutions. Regardless of what educators may think, the 
people who pay the taxes are going to have their say about what is 

5 To a great many readers this context will unfailingly suggest Wellington, 
Waterloo, and the playing fields of Eton. Wellington did attend Eton for a 
time, but before organized sports became a prominent feature of Eton life. 
According to Philip Guedalla, Wellington himself attributed much of his 
spirit of enterprise to the tricks he used to play in and about a broad, black 
ditch in an Eton garden. Guedalla remarks, "The tribute may be found un- 
satisfying by athletic purists and a shade disappointing even to Etonians, since 
their playing-fields appear only in the attenuated form of a ditch in a dame's 
garden. But such as it was, he paid it." (Philip Guedalla, Wellington, Harper, 
1931, pp. 22-23.) 


taught in the schools and who teaches it. If the citizens and tax- 
payers believe the earth is flat, it will probably go hard with the 
school teacher who openly declares that it is round, although cer- 
tainly the rest of the country should send some suitable home mis- 
sionaries to such a community to familiarize the members of the 
school board with the facts of geopolitics. Granting these facts of 
life, we must still say that local posts of the Legion have sometimes 
been tyrannical and unfair in their handling of teachers, which can 
be said of almost every large and powerful organization that has 
interested itself in education. 

In its campaigns against textbooks and its interference with 
teachers, the Legion has had the support of majority opinion; and 
at least on one issue, preparedness, its position has been proved ob- 
jectively correct. Doubting the prospect of permanent peace, the 
Legion has advocated a large army and navy. It has advocated edu- 
cation of the young in patriotism looking toward the possible de- 
fence of the country in time of war. When the Legion was studied 
during the thirties, by such liberals as Gellermann and Duffield, 6 
this pessimism with regard to the prospect of lasting peace seemed 
a grievous fault to them and to their readers, but their strictures 
against the Legion on this charge seem ridiculous today. If it had 
not been for the activities of the Legion and similar groups in keep- 
ing alive the military spirit, if it had not been for the rudimentary 
military establishment that we maintained, we might not have been 
able to fight the present war at all. 

The Legion's Military Preparedness Program 

Unlike many so-called pacifists pacifists that is, between wars 
the Legion has been entirely consistent in its attitude toward war. 
The Legion belief has been that war would certainly come and we 
should prepare for it. Pacifistic critics of the Legion have been 
against preparedness and against the Legion because it believed 
in preparedness, until they woke up one morning hot for war and 
found they had no army. By contrast with the Legion, its critics 
enjoy the distinction of having done everything they could to make 
their country weak and to get it into war. The consistent opponents 

. Also Marcus Duffield, King Legion. Cape and Smith, 1931. 


of war, such as the Quakers, of course, were not guilty of this con- 

The Legion describes and defends its foreign policy in the fol- 
lowing brief statement: 

It's a Fact 

That in 1919 the American Legion brought forward in the 
form of the National Defense act, the first National Defense 
legislation after World War I and this legislation became law 
in 1920. Had that law been fulfilled there would probably have 
been no global war. 

That in 1923 the American Legion insisted that the fortifica- 
tion of Hawaii, Wake, Midway and the Phillipines be so 
strengthened that invasion would be impossible. Had that been 
done, the Japs could never have taken the Phillipines or the 
East Indies. 

That starting in 1924 and continuing until Pearl Harbor 
the American Legion insisted upon the fortification of Guam. 
Had this been done the Japs would have been forced to at- 
tempt a campaign there before attacking Pearl Harbor. 

That the American Legion in 1923 demanded a Navy strong 
enough to patrol and control both the Atlantic and Pacific 
Oceans and has each year since that time insisted upon such a 
Navy. Had that Navy been provided the loss at Pearl Harbor 
would not have been so great as to occasion the loss of the 
Phillipines, Wake, Guam, and the East Indies. 

That in 1922 the American Legion proposed the Universal 
Service Act which, had it been enacted, would have made the 
Manpower Commission, the OPA, the WLRB and other similar 
governmental agencies unnecessary, thereby saving billions of 

The American Legion, like the G.A.R. before it, has practiced 
pressure politics. Gulp characterizes the Legion's legislative com- 
mittee as the epitome and model of pressure organizations. 7 Meas- 
ures inspired by the Legion are introduced by friendly Congress- 
men. While the bills are in committee, the Legion committee states 
the attitude of the organization and tries to win support. The 
Legion lobby keeps in close touch with Congressmen, bringing 
doubtful ones in line by means of an avalanche of letters and tele- 
grams from home. The Legion exercises similar power over the 
state legislatures. 

1 Culp, op. cit. 


But for the most part the Legion has used its power for worthy 
purposes, and it is difficult to understand why the organization has 
been so generally and so roundly damned. Its members are mostly 
in comfortable circumstances, but that is not a crime. The Legion 
is conservative, but on friendly terms with the American Federa- 
tion of Labor, and it has attacked Hamilton Fish and thus dissoci- 
ated itself from his brand of conservatism. The Legion's activities 
on behalf of disabled veterans have been unselfish, the more so be- 
cause Legion members belong to the economic group that pays 
heavy taxes. The Legion has pioneered in various welfare fields, 
but, except among professional social workers, has received little 
credit for it. The Legion favored the bonus, but did not take the 
lead in pressing for the prepayment of the bonus. The Legion kept 
the spirit of nationalism alive in the piping times of peace, for 
which it was greatly censured; but as it turned out this was prob- 
ably a public service. Now that war has come, and not through 
their agitation, Legionnaires are working for adequate care for the 
veterans of World War II. In this work, the Legion has a great task 
ahead of it. It may be that because of the Legion's interest in this 
matter, we shall not neglect our soldiers after this war. If the 
Legion helps to obtain just and intelligent treatment for the vet- 
erans of World War II, it will have amply justified its existence. 

What Veterans' Organizations Contribute to Society 

Many persons regard the veterans' organization as an unmiti- 
gated nuisance, a sort of thorn in the side of society. The truth is 
that such an organization performs many socially useful functions. 

If it were not for such organizations, the veteran might be a very 
troublesome individual. The founders of the American Legion 
recognized this fact, and designed a social machine that has proved 
extremely effective in containing and redirecting the hostilities and 
aggressions that the veterans brought home with them. If there had 
been no American Legion, this energy might very well have spent 
itself in destructive ways which would have brought no benefit 
either to the veterans or to society. 

Quite aside from any programs it may advocate, a national or- 
ganization of veterans which ignores the cleavages of religion, class, 
politics, and nationality background performs a great service to 


national unity. One of the greatest evils of a post-war world is the 
persecution of minorities; if veterans join in this activity the demo- 
cratic process suffers greatly. But if the veterans are organized in 
such a way as to minimize these differences, if they mingle with 
members of other cultures, classes, and religious groups at the 
meetings of their local posts, there is less likelihood that intolerance 
will flourish among them. Here a very clear line of policy is indi- 
cated for veterans who are members of minority groups. If they 
wish to combat prejudice and intolerance, they should not with- 
draw into their own organizations, but should become active par- 
ticipants in the inclusive organizations. The same reasoning seems 
to apply to labor groups. 

From the point of view of the individual member, the contribu- 
tion of the veterans' organization is magical. By its alchemy, the 
organization transforms an experience that would otherwise be 
most destructive into a social asset. The ex-soldier has lost his 
years, his youth, and he brings back the memory of nameless hor- 
rors. There is no place for him in civilian society. The veterans' 
organization gives him a place of honor. His fellow soldiers under- 
stand him. They value his achievements. They do not tire of listen- 
ing to him so long as he is willing to listen to them. When, like all 
the heroes of the past, he is in danger of being a bore, the society 
of his fellows saves him from this fate so much worse than death. 
Through the organization the veteran gains a stake in society. Some 
honor is due him for his military service, but he must belong to 
an organization if he hopes to collect it. There has to be an occa- 
sional parade and he must march in it. In this manner he learns 
to be proud of his status as a veteran and to love the country which, 
with only a little nagging, does him honor for the services which 
he once performed in response to only a little compulsion . . . ! 

More, apparently, than other veterans' organizations, the Amer- 
ican Legion has attempted to turn the veterans' energies into soci- 
ally useful channels. Stimulated by the Legion, veterans have in 
the past twenty years been much concerned with community wel- 
fare. Doubtless the social intelligence of the veterans has not al- 
ways kept pace with their good intentions, but then, an occasional 
Julius Rosenwald excepted, no one has really found the secret of 
intelligent philanthrophy. All people who mean well are bound to 
be mischievous sometimes. But think how much more harmful 
they might be if they did not mean welll 


An unfortunate aspect of the veterans' organization is that it 
organizes one age group against the rest of society. This age group, 
protected by the pathos that surrounds the veteran, is able to pro- 
long its domination of society for a long time. The G.A.R. ruled 
the country for nearly forty years after their battles were over. The 
pension rolls show to what an extent they used their dominance 
in their own interest. In the end the veterans were a small minority 
of the population, but their power to touch the public moneys was 
not diminished. Every veteran had his friends and relatives who 
voted right, not merely because their sentiments were right but be- 
cause they did not want to see Grandpa Jim or Uncle Jasper lose 
his pension. Every political machine works on more or less the 
same kind of patronage principles. As always, when one age group 
prolongs its power unduly, there came a time when the ideas of the 
veterans of the Civil War were no longer adequate to the new 
world around them and the entrenched veterans stood in the way 
of progress. The same fate may befall any such organization which 
is not constantly rejuvenated by transfusions of young blood. 

For various reasons, it is inevitable that most veterans' organ- 
izations should display a pronounced conservative trend. The com- 
mon trait of the members of these organizations is that they have 
once been soldiers. War accentuates in-group feeling, the soldier is 
the symbol of this feeling. Soldiers fight to defend things as they 
are; military men of all ranks tend to be conservative. A veterans' 
organization is usually formed just after a war by men who do not 
understand or sympathize with the war-induced changes in the 
civilian society with which they lost contact when they entered the 
military service. For these and other reasons, veterans' organiza- 
tions are nearly always conservative in tendency. 

Liberals will gain nothing by criticizing them on this account. 
They will accomplish little by dropping out of such organizations 
and fighting them from the outside. If liberals, intellectuals, labor 
union members and representatives of the less common shades of 
opinion wish to influence veterans in the next twenty-five years, 
their best chance will lie in joining the veterans' organizations, par- 
ticipating in their activities, compromising with them, and help- 
ing to form their policy in free and democratic discussion. If they do 
this, they may also find that they have taken an important step in 
their own education. 

Attempts To Help 
With Pensions 
And Other Relief 

AMERICAN ingenuity has fathered a great many devices to 
better the condition of the veterans of our many wars. These 
have included pensions for death or disability or simply on 
account of service, land grant bounties, care at soldier's homes, vo- 
cational rehabilitation, life insurance, adjusted compensation, re- 
tirement pay, and medical care. The total money cost of these 
measures was approximately twenty-five billion dollars up to 1942. 
Veterans also enjoy considerable preference in the state and fed- 
eral service. States have also given bonuses, tax exemptions, and 
a multitude of minor concessions. Minor benefits extended by the 
federal government include such things as burial at the public ex- 
pense and the furnishing of a flag for a veteran's funeral. 

Pensions and Other Relief Before World War I 1 

Our system of veterans' relief had its roots in English practice, 
from which it has slowly evolved to its present form. The American 
colonies, beset by constant wars with the Indians, early established 
pension systems, partly as inducements to enlistment. The Pilgrims 
at Plymouth passed such legislation in 1636. Virginia provided for 
veterans in 1644, Maryland in 1678, New York in 1691, Rhode 
Island in 1718. The money necessary to pay these pensions was 
not always available. George Washington championed the cause of 
the veterans of the French and Indian War. He was later to play a 

1 For materials in this section we are heavily indebted to an excellent study 
by Gustavus A. Weber and Laurence F. Schmeckebier, The Veterans Ad- 
ministration, Its History, Activities and Organization. Brookings Institution, 
1934. This study is wholly factual and attempts no evaluation. The earlier 
study of William H. Glasson, Federal Pensions in the United States, Oxford U. 
Press, 1918, is also very useful. 



most important part in originating and fixing in tradition the pol- 
icy of pensioning old soldiers. 

Our treatment of the soldiers and veterans of the Revolutionary 
War was characterized by shameful injustice, which the subsequent 
payment of lavish rewards to persons who had nothing to do with 
the war did not redress. The Revolutionary army was a miracle of 
poor organization. Because its supply system was undependable, its 
soldiers lacked food, clothing, and shoes. Pay was meager and often 
in arrears; when the soldiers were paid it was in depreciated cur- 
rency. Changing conditions of enlistment, poor record-keeping, and 
fraud gave rise to many grievances. Morale was low. There were 
some serious mutinies, which were sometimes handled by appease- 
ment and sometimes treated with a liberal dose of nitre. It is 
thought that promises of pensions and other rewards had much to 
do with keeping the army together. 

The Continental Congress provided for half-pay for disabled sol- 
diers in 1776. Two years later it passed unanimously an act grant- 
ing half-pay for seven years to all commissioned officers who should 
serve until the end of the war. Private soldiers, by this same act, 
were promised a gratuity the magnificent sum of $80. In 1780 the 
half-pay for officers was extended to life. The Continental Con- 
gress, of course, had to depend upon the states for the fulfillment 
of its promises, and various states did in fact pass laws to provide 
for the needs of the disabled and to make good the commitments 
to the officers. In 1780, Congress provided half-pay pensions for 
seven years to widows and orphans of officers who died in the 
service, but made no provision for the dependents of enlisted men. 

This tender concern for officers and disregard of enlisted men 
continued into the post-war period. When the troops, by then gen- 
erally disaffected to the edge of mutiny, were disbanded in the 
summer of 1783, each man received, according to Van Doren, one 
month's pay in specie and three in certificates. "This," Van Doren 
continues, "was the last recompense many of them ever got, ex- 
cept praise, for their years of hardship and privation." 2 The cer- 
tificates, of course, were quickly sold to speculators for a small per- 
centage of their face value. 

Commissioned officers fared much better in that callously class- 
conscious age. Their half-pay for life was changed in 1783 to five 

2 Carl Van Doren, Mutiny in January. Viking Press, 1943, p. 237. 


years' full pay. Some 2,480 officers were found to be eligible for 
"commutation certificates," which rapidly began to depreciate, 
since there was no provision for the payment of either principal 
or interest. These certificates, too, were bought up by speculators 
at extremely low rates, and when the claims were paid, the spec- 
ulators profited handsomely. The officers received only a fraction 
of what the government paid out on their account. 

The first United States Congress in 1789 took over the burden 
of pensions for the disabled of the Revolution. Then ensued a long 
series of increasingly generous laws relating to pensions for soldiers 
of that war. In 1818 pensions began to be granted to veterans and 
their dependents without regard to cause of death or disability. 
As a result of this liberalization, pensions for the year 1820 cost 
$2,766,440 more than had been expended in the entire period 
from 1789 to 1817. 

The decision to pension all veterans was to be a momentous pre- 
cedent in our history. Pensions were at length granted to widows 
on very liberal terms, which ultimately did not prevent remarriage. 
The last widow receiving a Revolutionary War pension, one Esther 
S. Damon of Vermont, died in 1906 at the age of ninety-two. Simple 
arithmetic shows that she was not born until the war had been over 
for thirty years, and she must have been some fifty years younger 
than her husband. The last of the pensioned veterans of the Revo- 
lutionary War died in 1867. Certain other pensions on account of 
the Revolutionary War continued to be paid until 1910. Approx- 
imately $70,000,000 in all was paid to pensioners of the Revolu- 
tionary War. In addition, 16,663 bounty-land warrants were issued, 
carrying title to 2,666,080 acres of land. 

Until 1871 pensions to veterans of the War of 1812 and their 
dependents were granted only because of death or disability in- 
curred in service. In 1871 these provisions began to be liberalized. 
Widows of such veterans were generously treated, and remained on 
the pay-roll until recent years the last veteran pensioner died in 
1905. One War of 1812 pensioner remained on the rolls in 1943, 
Esther Ann Hill Morgan, aged eighty-six, of Independence, Ore- 
gon. As the daughter of John Hill, a private in Clark's and Mc- 
Cumber's companies of the New York Militia, she received a pen- 
sion of twenty dollars a month. Up to 1942 something more than 
$46,000,000 had been paid out in pensions for the War of 1812. 


Mexican War veterans and their dependents received pensions 
only for death or service-connected disabilities until 1887. After 
that date the provisions of the pension laws were liberalized in 
the familiar manner. The last veteran pensioner of the Mexican 
War died in 1929, but 478 widows remained on the pension rolls 
in 1932, the value of their pensions being $279,000. About $61,500,- 
000 were paid to Mexican War pensioners up to 1942. The account, 
however, is by no means closed. There were still eighty-two pen- 
sioners in 1943, and they received $49,324. 

Our many Indian Wars have also produced considerable num- 
bers of veterans who have been able to claim pensions. Until 1892 
such pensions were limited to cases of death or disability in service. 
In 1892 the door was opened to surviving veterans of certain speci- 
fied Indian Wars between 1832 and 1842, and pension privileges 
were gradually extended by subsequent acts. In 1927 pensions were 
granted to disabled veterans whether the disability was service-con- 
nected or not. This legislation also granted benefits on the basis of 
age alone: $20 a month at age 62, $30 at age 68, $40 at age 72, and 
$50 at age 75. Up to 1942 we had spent nearly $89,000,000 on In- 
dian War pensions. In 1943 we were pensioning 1475 veterans at a 
cost of $1,156,235.90 and paying another $1,252,618.21 to depend- 
ents of 3319 deceased veterans. 

After the Civil War, pensions became a prominent political issue, 
and gave rise to pressure politics on a large scale. The drive for 
liberalization of conditions and increase in grants started slowly 
but gained great momentum about fifteen years after the end of 
the war. The "Arrears Act" of 1879 provided for collecting arrears 
of pensions in certain cases, and gave rich rewards to pension 
agents. In a famous veto message of 1887, Grover Cleveland called 
attention to the benefits received by the soldiers of the Civil War in 
the form of pay, bounties, pensions, civil service preference, and 
care in soldiers' homes, and stated that the veterans had "received 
such compensation for military service as has never been received 
by soldiers before since mankind first went to war." Although this 
particular veto was not over-ridden, the pension drive continued 
to function successfully. There were 2,213,365 soldiers who had 
served in the Civil War. The peak number of pensions was 970,352, 
a figure attained in 1901. The number of pensions was above 
800,000 from 1892 until 1912. Since there was some mobility on 


the pension rolls, it seems likely that a very high proportion of 
the veterans ultimately made a pension claim or had one made for 

Expenditures for Civil War pensions have to date been in excess 
of eight billion dollars. The account is by no means closed. As of 
June, 1943, we were paying pensions to 625 veterans whose average 
age was ninety-seven, the cost of these pensions being $4,870,564.63. 
Pensions were being paid to dependents of 32,552 deceased veterans 
at a cost of $15,682,850.46. 

The story of pensions arising from the War with Spain, the 
Philippine Insurrection, and the Boxer Rebellion is much the same. 
The originally fairly strict pension provisions were progressively 
liberalized through the years. Up to 1942 we had spent almost two 
billions on this group. In 1943 we paid out $99,457,260.43 to 140,093 
surviving veterans, and $23,531,288.05 to the dependents of deceased 

In addition to pension provisions of a general nature, a great 
many pensions have been granted by special Acts of Congress, 
mostly to persons who do not quite qualify under the letter of the 
law, but whose cases were regarded as deserving. In many of these, 
extra amounts are provided to persons whose merits or circum- 
stances seem to warrant special treatment. Such pensions are of 
course administered in the same manner as the others. Since 1862 
artificial limbs have been supplied. Domiciliary care is given at the 
Naval Home in Philadelphia, (authorized in 1811, opened in 
1831) at the Soldiers Home in Washington, at numerous Veterans' 
Administration Homes, and at various state homes. 

Pensions and Other Relief for World War I Veterans 

At the time of our entry into World War I, it was the intention 
of the government to avoid the pension evils that had arisen from 
other wars. After careful study, a system of service benefits not un- 
like workmen's compensation was enacted into law. The central 
feature was a system of voluntary, low-cost insurance, which the 
veteran could convert from term to some other form of insurance 
at the end of the war. Legislation also provided compensation for 
disability, and the compensation of families for death, allotments 
and allowances for dependents, medical treatment, prosthetic ap- 


pliances, and vocational rehabilitation of the disabled. Though 
vocational rehabilitation was intended to be compulsory, it was 
never enforced. 

This careful planning, however, was of little avail. The voca- 
tional training of the disabled was only moderately successful. 
About 180,000 veterans entered it, and 118,355 were believed to be 
rehabilitated and employable by reason of this training. The total 
cost of the vocational program was about $644,000,000. Claims for 
service-connected disability to the number of 1,141,206 were filed 
prior to June 30, 1932, and 541,000 awards were made. 

Readers who regard World War I as incomparably milder than 
the present global combat may be shocked by these figures. It is 
true that only a small proportion of our mobilized men actually 
engaged in combat in World War I. Nevertheless, one fourth of 
our entire army subsequently filed claims for injuries alleged to 
have been incurred in the war. About half of this group (or one- 
eighth of the total number of soldiers) received compensation 
for service-connected disabilities. 

By 1921 strong demands for additional veterans' compensation 
had crystallized. From that time on the veterans' benefits were a 
major issue of national politics. From 1921 to 1932 twelve general 
laws were passed relating to veterans, a principal feature of which 
was the liberalization of the interpretation of service-connected dis- 
ability. Congress proved to be much more susceptible to veteran 
pressure than was the President, and there were many vetoes. 

The 1924 Congress, dramatically overriding a presidential veto, 
passed the Adjusted Compensation Act. By this act veterans of 
World War I received a dollar a day for home service, and a dollar 
and a quarter for over-seas service, sixty dollars being deducted for 
the dismissal pay given earlier. Compensation was to be in the 
form of a twenty-year endowment policy of such an amount as 
could be purchased by the credit plus twenty-five per cent. Loans 
on these certificates, or policies, were authorized in 1927. Demands 
for immediate payment of the bonus led in 1932 to the ill-fated 
"Bonus Expeditionary Force," which we describe elsewhere. There 
was a great political struggle before the bonus was at length paid 
in full in 1936. 

Immediately upon coming to power, Franklin D. Roosevelt made 
a determined attempt to cut the costs of veterans' expenditures. 


The attempt was not highly successful. Nevertheless, the hard times 
of the past ten years have prevented any rapid expansion of vet- 
erans' benefits. 

While there is as yet no general pension for all World War I 
veterans of a certain age, some pensions for non-service-connected 
disabilities are allowed. A veteran who served ninety days honor- 
ably, whose disability is total and permanent, may receive $30 a 
month if his income is not over $1000 if single or $2500 if married. 
There were 84,878 veterans of World War I drawing pensions for 
non-service-connected disabilities in 1943, at a cost of $37,879,290.87. 
This compares with three hundred and forty-one thousand five hun- 
dred and five veterans pensioned for service-connected disabilities 
at a cost of $165,865,297.31. About five hundred and fifty thousand 
veterans and dependents from World War I are on the pension 
rolls at the present time. 

The total Federal expenditures for relief of veterans had reached 
an amount estimated by Buehler at twenty-five billion dollars by 
June 30, 1942. 3 Fifteen billions had gone in pensions. Another ten 
billions had been spent for adjusted compensation, insurance, and 
other benefits. Land grants of course were not included in this 
figure. Neither were expenditures by the various state governments. 

Buehler has compiled two excellent tables (see page 223). 

The Ethics of Pensioning Ex-Soldiers 

There has been a great deal of argument about military pensions 
in the past, and no doubt the controversy will continue in the 
years to come. It may be worth while to attempt to formulate a few 
common sense principles on which we may judge such controversies. 

Probably no one questions the justice of pensions for superannu- 
ated veterans of the regular military establishment. These men have 
given their best years to the army at a low rate of pay, one of the 
inducements being the pension system. They are entitled to their 

The claim of the physically disabled veterans is clear but subject 
to certain qualifications. The pension is one solution to the prob- 

3 Alfred G. Buehler, "Military Pensions," in The Annals of the American 
Academy of Political and Social Science, May 1943, on the subject "Our Service 
Men and Economic Security," edited by Robert H. Skilton, pp. 128-135. 


Number of Pensioners 

Disbursements during fiscal 

June 30, 1942 

year (in millions of dollars) 









Grand total 







War of 1812 






Mexican War 






Indian Wars 







Civil War 















World War I 







World War II 





0.0 (c) 


Regular Estab- 








(a) $240.00 

(6) $54,966.34 

(c) $11,913.32 

(in millions of dollars) 

Revolutionary War 70.0 

War of 1812 46.2 

Indian Wars 88.8 

Mexican War 61.5 

Civil War 8,007.1 

Spanish-American War 1,792.6 

World War I 4,619.5 

World War II 00.0 (a) 

Regular Establishment 223.6 

Unclassified 16.5 

Maintenance and expense 153.1 

Total pension costs 
(a) $200,000 


lem of disability, but certainly not the best. If the disabled soldier 
can be rehabilitated, so that he is capable of full self-support, such 
an outcome is preferable for him and for society. And if he can be 



partly rehabilitated, that is better than a status of complete help- 
lessness. Compensation for disability must be of such a kind, and 
must be given in such a way, as not to destroy the desire to be self- 
supporting. Furthermore, disability is relative to one's accustomed 
occupation. An injury that unfits a man for manual labor might 
not be a great disadvantage to a lawyer, a banker, or a doctor. 
Nevertheless, all disabilities should be compensated in some way, 
in so far as they are actual economic handicaps. 

The greatest abuses of disability claims have arisen with com- 
pensation for non-service-connected disabilities. The presumption 
of service-connection for disabilities developing within a specified 
period after the end of a war is dangerous. Even more dangerous 
is the tendency to establish pensions for all disabled regardless 
of the origin of their disabilities. The least justifiable pension is 
that which goes to all war veterans who have attained a certain 
age, their physical condition and financial standing being dis- 

As for those disabled by reason of psychoneurotic breakdown, 
the case for pensions is less clear. They are, of course, sick persons, 
and as such entitled to care; but there is some question as to 
whether the care given to them should be based upon military 
service, and it may be that a pension would be the worst thing in 
the world for such persons. A pension, by giving them a secondary 
gain from neurosis by making neurosis pay may prevent many 
such persons from ever making a normal adjustment to life. We 
should therefore try to find some other mode of treating psycho- 
neurotics, perhaps some adaptation of psychiatric social work. 

Similar gradations appear with regard to the claims of the 
veterans' dependents. Few would deny that when men are killed 
in war, the duty of supporting their widows and orphans devolves 
upon the nation. When a soldier is disabled, the state is respon- 
sible for him and his dependents. When a disabled veteran mar- 
ries and has a family, the obligation would seem still to hold. It 
would be obviously unjust to deny these wards of the state the 
privileges of family life, and probably their contributions to the 
population would be eugenically desirable. 

A great abuse arises when a young woman marries an aged 
veteran on the road to the cemetery, and then draws a pension for 
the rest of her life on the basis of his service in a war that was 


over and done with twenty or thirty years before she was born. 
This sort of thing has happened a great many times in our history. 

The veteran has also a valid claim to dismissal pay. If money, 
goods, and services can help him to readjust to civilian life, he 
has every right to get them. The principle of adjusted compensa- 
tionthe bonus is somewhat different. By reason of his military 
service, the veteran has been put at a disadvantage in competition 
with others. He has worked for $50 a month while others were 
drawing war-boom wages, and it is up to the state to make up the 
difference to him. There is more justice in this claim than scholars 
and pooh-bahs have usually been willing to concede, although the 
actual difference between the soldier's and the war-worker's pay is 
less than it seems when we consider only the crude, uncorrected 
figures. The only way to avoid such post-war problems would be 
to manage our wars in such a way that nobody makes any money 
from them. We may be sure that our soldiers would fight better, 
and feel better, if they knew that no one at home was getting rich 
from their sacrifices. 

A tragic aspect of both pensions and bonuses in the past has 
been that sharpers and speculators have usually had the good of 
them. The Revolutionary certificates were in large part sold to 
speculators who reaped huge profits on them. Soldiers were also 
very often cheated of their bounties in land. The activities of the 
Civil War pension agents were scandalous; and some of their 
profits were huge. While in recent years there have been fewer 
loopholes, nevertheless some few persons, particularly certain law- 
yers, have made a very good thing of pressing veterans' claims. 
The activities of the veterans' organizations in handling veterans' 
cases free of charge have helped to minimize abuses of this kind. 

It is also unfortunate that our aid to veterans, generous as it 
has been, has usually come too late to help them during their 
crucial years of readjustment to civilian life. We have spent im- 
mense sums on veterans, mostly after it was too late to do any 
good. If a veteran has not readjusted after ten years of civilian life, 
he probably never will readjust. The bonus of World War I, when 
it came, was too little and too late: too little for justice, too late to 
be of any help in readjustment. The money would have been just 
as well spent in attempting to rehabilitate the veterans of Pickett's 
Charge. A much smaller sum, spent wisely in 1919 and 1920, could 
have accomplished incomparably more. 


If arguments for pensions, bonuses, and other subsidies are often 
fallacious, the arguments against them are rarely models of sound 
logic. We were told that the bonus of World War I would bank- 
rupt the country, that we could never possibly pay it. But we were 
able to spend vast sums in rehabilitating German industry and in 
carrying through many other projects of equal wisdom. After 
World War II we shall no doubt hear all the same arguments. The 
fact is that no price would be too high if we could actually re- 
habilitate the soldier. 

A much graver fallacy is that of regarding the question of pen- 
sions as the basic problem. Much nearly all of the literature on 
the subject reflects this misconception. We get nowhere by denounc- 
ing veterans for demanding pensions, by exposing the pension 
"racket," by writing books and articles against the veterans' 
exactions. The fact is that pensions pension drives, bonus de- 
mands, etc. are a symptom of a deep-lying maladjustment, and it is 
not sound policy to attack symptoms while disregarding the causes 
of symptoms. The cause of this particular set of symptoms is the 
veteran's maladjustment in society. 

What Veterans on Relief Have Received 

Many old soldiers who are not eligible for pensions or other 
Federal benefits fall upon hard times. State governments have 
passed a multitude of laws in order to help this group of veterans. 
Robert C. Lowe has summarized the provisions of this legislation 
as follows: 

"Special statutory provisions for the care and support of vet- 
erans exist in practically all States. These provisions are of three 
types: direct relief (26 States), pensions (21 States), and care in State 
institutions (38 States). 

"The majority of statutes providing for direct relief include the 
wives, widows and dependent children of veterans in the class of 
eligibles; over one-half of the statutes include other dependent 
relatives. Pensions are granted only to the veteran or his widow 
under the majority of State pension acts; a few provide for pensions 
to other dependent relatives. Care in state institutions is usually 
restricted to veterans and their wives or widows; only about one- 
Jjalf pjf tfre States provide for institutional care of pther dependent 


relatives. Nurses who served in time of war are frequently desig- 
nated as eligible for relief, pensions, and institutional care. Servants 
of soldiers are granted pensions under the laws of a few of the 
Southern States. 

"Eligibility requirements for all three types of veteran assistance 
relate principally to residence, the war in which service was ren- 
dered, and need. Disability is a condition for receipt of such aid in 
a few States; some of whose statutes provide that the disability 
must have resulted from military service. 

"The majority of State statutes providing for all three types of 
aid prescribe residence requirements . . . 

"Veterans of all wars are eligible for direct relief in the majority 
of States making provisions for direct relief to veterans. However, 
legal provisions granting pensions to veterans of all wars exist in 
only three States (Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York). Ap- 
proximately three-fourths of the States providing for pensions grant 
them only to veterans of the Civil War, and most of these are 
Southern States which grant pensions to Confederate veterans. Min- 
nesota does not provide pensions to any veterans except those of 
the Indian Wars. World War [I] and Spanish-American War vet- 
erans receive pensions under the laws of Maine. 

"Nearly one-half of the States providing institutional care do not 
require service in any specific war but grant aid to all veterans of 
the armed forces of the United States. Approximately one-fourth 
of the States provide institutional care for Civil War veterans only, 
and these institutions are principally for the care of Confederate 
veterans . . . 

"The statutes providing direct relief do not define need by 
specific terms but use such descriptive words as 'dependent,' 
'needy/ and 'poor.' Ten of the twenty-one States granting pensions 
prescribe need as a qualification; seven State laws make disability 
a condition for receiving a pension without prescribing need; and 
the remaining, four States authorize pensions on the basis of vet- 
eran status alone. Approximately one-half of the States which pre- 
scribe need as a condition for eligibility for a pension define need 
in terms of specific limitations on property and income . . . 

"The type and amount of aid granted veterans varies widely." 4 

Pensions for Confederate soldiers, by the way, are often re- 

4 Robert C. Lowe, State Public Welfare Legislation. Works Progress Ad- 
ministration, Research Monographs, U,S, Governjtnent Printing Office, 1939, pp. 


markably generous. Alabama pays $600 a year, Florida gives $600 
plus an extra $5 a month for those who lost an eye, foot, or hand 
in actual service. Georgia provides $360, South Carolina $240, and 
Arkansas $100. Kentucky, which did not secede, pays $600 to Con- 
federate veterans. It is remarkable that these poor States, already 
burdened with the high cost of Federal pensions, should provide 
so generously for the warriors of the Lost Cause. The pensions are, 
of course, limited to cases of actual need. 

Veterans' organizations usually participate in the administration 
of veterans' relief. New York State provides special relief for male 
and female veterans, for the families of deceased veterans, and for 
their dependent widowed daughters. The law provides that "A 
local unit of any of the following veterans' organizations is au- 
thorized to apply to the appropriating body of a town, city, or 
county for funds and to administer relief to veterans at public 

(a) The Grand Army of the Republic. 

(b) The United Spanish War Veterans. 

(c) The American Legion. 

(d) The Disabled American Veterans of the World War. 

(e) The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. 

(f) The Army and Navy Union of the United States. 

(g) The Jewish Veterans of the Wars of the Republic, Incor- 

(h) The Catholic War Veterans, Incorporated." 5 

A veteran may not be sent to an almshouse in New York. In Illi- 
nois, Oregon, and Washington he may be sent to the almshouse 
only with the consent of the commander of the nearest veterans' 
post. In this manner does the law attempt to protect the old 
soldier from this last indignity. 

The sums spent for veterans' relief are considerable. A sample of 
120 urban areas showed that in 1929 veterans' relief consumed 
between a fifth and a sixth as much money as general relief. From 
1929 to 1933, however, veterans' relief increased much less rapidly 
than general relief. The figures follow: 

5 Elsie M. Bond, Public Relief in New York State, A Summary of the Public 
Relief Law and Related Statutes. New York State Department of Welfare and 
The State Charities Aid Association, Albany, 1936. 

Expenditures from public and private funds administered 

by public agencies in 120 urban areas, 1929-1933 
Year Veterans' relief General relief 

1929 $2,222,181 112,133,856 

1930 4,011,362 26,890,664 

1931 7,726,884 53,452,819 

1932 11,885,970 128,800,557 

1933 12,840,909 239,313,607 6 

Average monthly number of cases aided by 

direct and work relief: 
Year Veterans' relief General relief 

1929 6,505 34,180 

1930 10,719 73,244 

1931 19,623 178,066 

1932 36,731 463,157 

1933 38,601 875,655 7 

This same study made it clear that the veteran on relief in 
urban areas in 1933 had no great financial advantage over non- 
veterans. The following table of comparative expenditures brings 
this out: 

Average monthly relief per case in 1933 
City General Veterans 

Chicago-Three agencies $30.55 $29.10 


Boston 35.43 32.88 

Detroit 25.66 14.03 

New York 29.15 33.74 

Saint Louis-Two agencies 12.05 23.24 

20.95 8 

Veterans were well aware of this situation. A pathetic letter from 
a soldier of the Spanish-American War, published in the New York 

6 From Table 7 in Emma A. Winslow, Trends in Different Types of Public 
and Private Relief in Urban Areas, 1929-1935. U.S. Department of Labor, 
Children's Bureau, Publication No. 237, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1937. 

Ubid., from Table 8. 

8 Ibid. 



Times on August 8, 1941, pointed out that veteran status was not 
an unmixed blessing. Old-age pensions were difficult for a veteran 
to get. Federal pensions for Spanish War veterans brought in $30 
a month, which was less than an alien received on home relief. 
A single man on home relief received $30 a month and food stamps, 
while a veteran of 62 received $30 a month without the stamps. A 
man and wife at 65 received $60 a month as an old-age pension, 
which was just what a veteran with a wife would receive at that 
age. A man with children and a wife might be better off on home 
relief than on a pension. Other detailed comparisons brought out 
the fact that veterans were no better off than non-veterans. What 
had happened, of course, was that standards of general relief had 
risen to and sometimes above the levels previously set for veterans. 

In rural areas, however, the veteran on relief has a real financial 
advantage over the non-veteran. In 1937, a sample of 385 rural 
and town areas showed 54,771 persons on the general relief rolls, 
the average monthly aid per case being $15.22. There were 2800 
veterans, and the average aid per case was $24.33. To the well-fed 
reader this difference may not seem large. To the person living 
on $15.22 a month it probably seems enormous. 

Bitter struggles were waged in the 1930s over the pitiful ad- 
vantages to be gained by the status of the veteran on relief. De- 
mands for veterans' preference greatly complicated the administra- 
tive problems of the alphabetical make-work agencies. Beginning 
in 1937, Congress attached veterans' preference provisions to WPA 
appropriations. Many veterans not eligible for other benefits were 
glad to serve in the CCC camps. There were 130 all-veteran camps 
in 1940, with a total enrollment of 27,000 men. The average age 
of these veterans was 47 years. 

Whether or not there are financial advantages in veteran status 
on relief, there are certainly social and psychological advantages. 
It must be a great deal easier for a man to take relief that is given 
to him as a veteran than for him to accept something that is given 
only for sweet charity's sake. And the veteran on relief has power- 
ful friends and certain prerogatives, and it must be a comfort to 
him to know that he can not be pushed around as easily as the 
person who has never worn a uniform. For such excellent reasons 
he clings to veteran status even when it is not financially profitable 
to do so. 


Veterans' Preferences and Other Benefits 

Governmental largesse to veterans is not limited to pensions and 
relief. There are various other benefits for ex-soldiers. 

The government life insurance is a valuable asset. The rates are 
low and the benefits high, because the government pays the over- 
head cost of the company. At one time many private insurance 
firms instructed their agents not to try to sell their policies in com- 
petition with government insurance, but to encourage all veterans 
to take the full amount of government insurance a far-sighted 
policy which was probably very good business. 9 

Then there are the laws that guarantee the veteran preference 
in the civil service. Here the veterans of World War I accom- 
plished quickly what the G.A.R. had been unable to do in many 
years; they achieved a really effective set of veterans' preference 
laws. The disabled soldier is particularly favored by them. That 
these laws work as intended is shown by the high proportion of 
veterans appointed to the Federal civil service. In the civil service 
of various States, veterans' preference comes near to being absolute, 
what with regulations that make it difficult for a non-veteran ever 
to outrank a veteran on the civil service lists. 

Veterans' preference laws have often been criticized because they 
cause governmental employees to be selected on a basis other than 
efficiency. Indeed, one could hardly expect enthusiasts of civil ser- 
vice reform to endorse legislation that injures the structure which 
they have labored for generations to erect. We must concede that 
veterans' preference laws will probably lower the efficiency of the 
civil service. There is, however, one thing to be said for such laws: 
They recognize that the veteran has been damaged as a com- 
petitor and attempt to restore him to a favorable competitive posi- 
tion, and they help the veteran by giving him a chance to earn 
his living. 

The underlying rationale of veterans' preference is that govern- 
ment can better put up with possible inefficiency than private em- 
ployers. Private employers, if they hired disabled veterans at cur- 
rent rates of pay, would often be forced out of business by the com- 
petition of less sentimental entrepreneurs. Not so the government, 
to which the ordinary concept of solvency does not apply. 

9 Government insurance has been criticized with some justification because of 
the high rate of interest charged on policy loans. 


In government, furthermore, efficiency is often not the first con- 
sideration; what is most important in many aspects of government 
is simply the just use of the irresistible power of the State. With re- 
spect to most of its functions, no one cares whether government is 
efficient or not if only it is just; inefficiency matters only as ineffi- 
ciency means injustice. In other parts of government, such as the 
postal service, efficiency is desirable but a moderate degree of in- 
efficiency does no harm. If, for example, the postmaster of a whistle- 
stop community is a disabled veteran minus an arm or a leg, he may 
be a little slow in getting out the mail, but that does no harm. 
Disability, however, does not always mean inefficiency; a great many 
of the handicapped are in fact more conscientious, single-minded, 
and efficient in the performance of their duties than are persons of 
normal capacity. 

Within the limits of their resources, State governments have be- 
stowed other marks of their favor upon the soldier. Writing in 
1933, Talcott Powell collected information concerning these State 
benefits. In part, they are as follows: Eleven States granted poll-tax 
exemption. Twenty-six gave a limited tax exemption to veterans 
or their organizations or both. Seventeen had a fund for World 
War orphans. Twenty-eight supplied guardianship for orphans, 
thirty-three for veterans. Twenty-seven paid burial expenses. Seven 
gave assistance in purchasing farms and homes. Two gave free 
notary service in connection with veterans' benefits; fifteen gave 
other aid in prosecuting compensation cases; nineteen furnished 
a service officer to assist in making claims to the Veterans' 
Bureau. Nine supplied scholarships or other funds for educating 
veterans. Thirteen gave a free vending license. Seventeen at that 
time had civil service preference. Twenty maintained a state vet- 
erans' home. Three States legalized loans on adjusted service cer- 
tificates for state banks. Two cared for graves and eleven furnished 
headstones or special markers; one furnished a firing squad for 
funerals. Twenty States had a state bonus. Indiana gave free hunt- 
ing and fishing licenses to veterans. North Carolina provided that 
the veteran's body might not be dissected. West Virginia exempted 
the American Legion from the boxing tax. There were many other 
special provisions of the State laws, and each meeting of the State 
legislatures adds to the list. 10 

10 Talcott Powell, Tattered Banners. Harcourt Brace, 1033, appendix. 


Thus we see that America has tried many experiments in its 
attempt to alleviate the miseries of ex-soldiers. The political power 
of the veterans, aided by the guilty conscience of the remainder 
of the population, has resulted in a proliferation of measures de- 
signed to benefit those who have fought our wars. But these often 
whimsical and fantastic expressions of good-will have generally not 
been very helpful to veterans; they usually came too late to help in 
any way that counted much. The past history of our attempts to 
help veterans is useful principally as showing us the kind of thing 
we should avoid. In the succeeding chapter we shall continue this 
theme with an analysis of some of our more spectacular failures. 

Some Spectacular 
Failures In 
Helping Veterans 

BY the time we entered World War I, the United States had 
accumulated considerable experience with the veteran prob- 
lem. Wilson was an historian and social scientist, and he was 
responsible for some well-conceived plans, but his careful planning 
did not prevent us from repeating many of the tragic errors of the 
past. In the years after the war, we failed to give adequate care 
to the disabled. There was scandalous mismanagement of veterans' 
affairs and graft of epic proportions. There was pauperizing relief 
and a rehabilitation program that failed. There was agitation for 
the bonus which arose directly from these failures. There were the 
thousands of soldiers and sailors who spent the post-war period in 
the Big House also the result of our failures. Then came the 
pitiful bonus army which President Hoover ordered General 
Douglas MacArthur to disperse with tanks and tear gas. Let us 
review some of this recent history, in order to learn what not to do. 
In 1918 nothing was too good for the soldiers. The sky was the 
limit on promises. We were particularly proud of our concept of 
rehabilitation, which we thought of as applying only to the 
wounded. Our surgeons were going to perform miracles; they would 
make a man a new face or patch him up otherwise until he was 
better than ever. And there was much talk of those marvelous arti- 
ficial limbs which, one was led to believe, were much better than 
the real ones and had the additional advantage of not being sub- 
ject to disease and decay. We appropriated vast sums for hospitals, 
and never built them. We neglected a great many men who had 
obvious service-connected disabilities, and thus invited later frauds. 
We set the great mass of veterans adrift with the magnificent dis- 
missal pay of sixty dollars. Sixty dollars, in those days, would buy 
a fairly good suit of clothes but left no margin for shoes, hat, over- 



coat, shirts, and other such accoutrements worn by the decently 
dressed civilian in 1919. Then we all voted for Harding and forgot 
about the veterans. 

The Scandals 0/1923 

The veterans' organizations had retained an interest in their 
disabled comrades. As they had done before in our history, they 
were able to awaken the conscience of the nation on behalf of this 
neglected group. They kept up their fight. In the last days of 1919, 
Legion officials dramatically brought in some disabled veterans to 
speak before a group of Congressmen. An infantry corporal stood 
on his one leg and said that the morale of 1600 disabled veterans 
at Walter Reed Hospital was "lower than the morale of the Ger- 
man army ever was even when we had them on the run." A badly 
wounded private told of his inability to support his wife on the 
governmental allowance. A crippled tank corps sergeant, who had 
enlisted at sixteen, told of the shortcomings of the rehabilitation 
program. Immediately after this the Sweet Bill was passed, in- 
creasing the compensation of the disabled from $30 to $80 a month. 
But still the hospitals did not get built, and thousands of disabled 
continued to be left to their own meager resources. In 1921 the 
Veterans' Bureau was established, but Harding made one of his 
worst appointments in selecting its chief, and the graft, misman- 
agement, and neglect of the veterans continued. 

In 1923 the public clamor was so great that a Congressional in- 
vestigation was ordered. The administration of veterans' affairs 
had been in the hands of Colonel Charles R. Forbes. He was a 
curious character to have been chosen for such a large responsi- 
bility even in Harding's administration. A drummer boy in the 
Marines at the age of twelve, he was discharged at fourteen, and 
after some years he re-enlisted, this time in the Signal Corps. While 
serving at Fort Meyer, he deserted, was apprehended and briefly 
imprisoned for the first time at the age of twenty-two. The charges 
were dropped, and he was permitted to serve out his term of en- 
listment. During World War I he served with distinction, winning 
the Distinguished Service Medal for bravery beyond the call of 
duty. Colonel Forbes was not a great success in business, but was 
very much of a good fellow, the possessor of a curious charm which 


even his enemies admitted. Forbes became a friend of Harding, and 
did not hesitate to capitalize on that friendship. From time to time, 
however, he went too far even for the good-natured Harding, thus 
incurring the presidential displeasure. 

Waste and graft in the Veterans' Bureau under Forbes were esti- 
mated at $225,000,000. The greatest sin of the Forbes administra- 
tion was the failure to build hospitals and the graft connected with 
the purchase of hospital sites. The hospitals were badly and care- 
lessly planned; on one occasion the absence of a kitchen was not 
discovered until the builders were ready to break ground for con- 
struction. In 1923 the hospitals were not yet completed; those 
finally available had cost from $4000 to $5000 a bed! Canada, with 
a much worse problem, had completed the construction of her 
hospitals by January, 1920, and had supplied facilities adequate in 
every respect at an average cost of $1500 a bed. 

Forbes had operated recklessly in his purchases and disposal of 
surplus stores. He bought enough floor wax to take care of the 
needs of the Bureau for one hundred years, or "to polish a dance 
floor half the size of North Dakota," and then had most of it de- 
stroyed in order to cut down fire risks in storage. He bought $35,000 
worth of a certain floor cleaner worth two cents a gallon at a price 
of ninety-eight cents a gallon. He bought, and never used, tre- 
mendous quantities of gold for dental fillings. He sold 85,000 sheets 
which cost $1.25 each for $.20 apiece, at a time when fresh pur- 
chases of sheets were still being delivered to the bureau. He at- 
tempted to dispose of large quantities of liquor and narcotics. One 
of the gems of German propaganda in the United States during 
World War I was the statement that garments made for the Red 
Cross by American women were sold in department stores at high 
prices. Forbes made that dream come true. He sold 98,000 pairs 
of Red Cross pajamas of good quality at thirty cents each. Forbes 
was alleged to have received a third of the profits on certain con- 
tracts. There were other "irregularities." One man was paid a 
salary of $4800 for working two hours a year. Railway passes were 
issued to persons who had never worked for the bureau, one for a 
European trip and two for Asiatic trips. 1 

i The story of these scandals is told at length in U.S. Congress, Senate, Select 
Committee to Investigate the Veterans' Bureau. Investigation of the Veterans' 
Bureau, pursuant to S. Res. 466, 67th Cong.; 4th Sess., Senate Report 103, 68th 


Forbes, of course, went to prison, after a legal fight and a trial 
in which his guilt was established in a moderately convincing 
manner. There had been neglect and mismanagement, and someone 
had to be punished, and therefore Forbes, who had meanwhile suf- 
fered a paralytic stroke, was committed to Leavenworth in March, 
1926. The punishment of Forbes was, to be sure, a just and salutary 
action, but a diligent search of the contemporary record fails to 
reveal that any of the veterans who undoubtedly died of neglect in 
the Forbes administration were restored to life when the aging 
scoundrel limped through the prison gates nor does it seem logi- 
cally demonstrable that Forbes was the only person to blame for 
the neglect of veterans in the years following 1918. Forbes emerged 
from prison in November, 1927, declaring that he would yet vindi- 
cate the name of President Harding, and also prove that his cell- 
mate, Dr. Cook, had actually discovered the North Pole. After that, 
he planned, with Dr. Cook, to discover the South Pole. 

When General Hines took office, he attempted not only to im- 
prove the efficiency of service to veterans, but to remedy the pau- 
perizing procedures which went hand in hand with inefficiency. 
He found, as so many have before and since, that in the human 
relations field the best service is the least expensive in the long 
run, and that neglect and inefficiency are the parents of demorali- 
zation. General Hines introduced various reforms designed to check 
the increasing pauperization of dependent veterans. But that was 
1923, and much damage had already been done. 

This five-year period of neglect of disabled veterans opened the 
door to many spurious claims then and later. The proper policy 
would have been to make an active and determined search for all 
disability cases in the years following 1918. This was not done, and 
in consequence a great many deserving cases remained undetected, 
while a number of fraudulent claims were pressed with vigor. Since 
the search for the disabled had not been conducted, there was no 
way in 1923 of doing justice to the disabled of war except by fram- 
ing rules in such a way as to include with them many cases of dis- 
ability not of service origin. 

Cong., 1st Sess. For shorter statements see: Carl C. Dickey, "Plundering the 
Wounded Men," in The World's Work, June, 1924, and Stanley Frost, "Salvag- 
ing the Veterans' Bureau," in The Outlook, Oct. 3, 1923. See also The Outlook, 
Nov. 21, 1923, p. 477. 


Investigations of disability rolls have accordingly shown that 
many persons receive compensation who are not in any real sense 
disabled. One man certified as totally and permanently disabled by 
flat feet won a prize by dancing continuously for thirty-six hours 
in a marathon dance. Another totally and permanently disabled 
veteran was found to be a regular player on a college football team. 
New York City's policemen and firemen pass very exacting physical 
examinations before appointment, but a number of them have 
been on the force while drawing army pensions for physical dis- 
ability. There have been many such cases. These injustices are part 
of the price we pay for not seeking out and discovering the truly 
disabled in the years immediately following the war. 

The Program of Vocational Rehabilitation 

As we have already observed, one of the good ideas for dealing 
with the disabled veteran of World War I was to teach him a new 
trade or profession in which his disability would not be a handicap. 
This program, instituted in 1918, was continued with various ad- 
ministrative changes until June 30, 1928. Approximately 180,000 
veterans were enrolled in training courses, and of these 118,355 
were subsequently considered to be rehabilitated and employable 
by reason of their training. The cost of the program was $644,- 

The program of vocational rehabilitation started poorly, and 
never reached a high state of efficiency. In August, 1919, The New 
York Times attempted an evaluation of the program to date. 2 It 
estimated that 247,000 Americans had been disabled during the 
war, of whom seven-tenths would require vocational rehabilita- 
tionan estimate which proved remarkably accurate. But up to 
June 28, 1919, The Federal Board of Vocational Education, with 
1,635 employees, had managed to put only 3,923 veterans into 
training. The Times concluded that "The long delays to which the 
crippled and disabled men have been subjected, the entanglements 
of red tape, and the worry over money matters while they waited, 
in many instances with nothing to live on and no way to make a 
living, have seriously affected their morale. This is apparent even 
among those under hospital treatment." 

2 The New York Times, Aug. 24, 1919. 


In March and April of 1920, a Congressional committee, aided 
by the newspapers, subjected the program of vocational rehabilita- 
tion to further scrutiny. Many pitiful cases of neglect and misman- 
agement were revealed, and the suspicion of graft was certainly not 
excluded. A veteran with one arm, one leg, one eye, and one ear 
told the committee of his struggles to obtain vocational training. 
It was discovered that a soldier who had lost his sight in battle 
was receiving twenty-five cents a day as compensation. Crippled vet- 
erans were being exploited as a source of cheap labor, and they 
were frequently misplaced in training. A fly-by-night vocational 
school in Pittsburgh, operating under no supervision from the 
Board, was receiving more than $125,000 a year in return for al- 
leged vocational training given to 300 veterans. It is worth noting 
that all this happened before Harding's administration. 

In spite of this drum-fire of criticism, the Board continued to work 
with exasperating slowness. Up to August 15, 1921, three years 
after the end of the war, only 5,393 veterans had completed their 
training. A number of administrative reorganizations improved the 
program by decentralizing responsibility and speeding up action 
on applications. But the program never became more than mod- 
erately effective. 

In 1923 Stanley Frost investigated the rehabilitation program 
and published his findings in The Outlook? His progress report 
and analysis of five years after the war make interesting reading 
today. He notes that the work was started by a curiously mixed 
body of educational theorists and deserving Democrats, the Demo- 
crats being replaced in 1921 by equally deserving Republicans. 
Some of the difficulties of the program arose from the policy of en- 
trusting its administration to political appointees. The Bureau had 
created some thirty schools, in which about 4,000 students were 
enrolled in 1923. Analysis of the salaries paid to the teachers leads 
one to believe that these were not first-rate schools. Most of the 
trainees had been farmed out to other schools, which ranged from 
first-rate universities to fly-by-night diploma mills. There was no 
adequate inspection of these schools, and there was reason to be- 
lieve that some of them continued to exist only because of the 
political connections of their owners. About half of the trainees 

3 Stanley Frost, "Grab-Bag Training for Veterans," in The Outlook, Sept. 26, 


were "in placement," under a sort of apprenticeship arrangement, 
which was a useful device but one in which the possibility of ex- 
ploitation by the employer was present. Little attempt had been 
made to fit the training to the veteran's needs or abilities. Nor was 
there any coordination with the world of industry. Men were 
trained for overcrowded trades in which they could not hope to 
find employment. Several hundred sign-painters, for example, were 
trained when no employment was available. Crippled men were 
trained for trades which insurance regulations precluded them from 
practicing. The compensation drawn by some men during their 
training was more than they could have hoped to make at their 
trades, and therefore they prolonged their training and kept shift- 
ing their courses. Many veterans took "snap courses" as a way of 
loafing. A music course was considered excellent for this purpose, 
since it required only a couple of hours a week for lessons and the 
rest of the week was supposed to be devoted to practice at the 
student's option. There was little or no inspection or follow-up of 
the student's work. Frost gave special commendation to the Col- 
lege of the City of New York, where some 1300 veterans were 
being trained. 

In another article Frost compared the veterans' program of the 
United States with that of Canada. 4 In Canada rehabilitation 
courses lasted seven months and cost $820 on the average; in the 
United States, twenty-seven months and cost $3,850. Nevertheless, 
Canada's results were superior. 

It is interesting to bear in mind that Frost's report described 
conditions existing five years after the end of the war. And yet we 
may reasonably suppose that if vocational rehabilitation cannot be 
completed in five years it cannot be done at all. 

The "Bonus Expeditionary Force 33 0/1932 

The Bonus Army "Bonus Expeditionary Force" it called itself 
was a collection of pitiable misfits who descended on Washington, 
D.C., in 1932 and frightened many well-fed people into thinking 
the Communist revolution was just around the corner. But this 
was a mistaken notion; members of the bonus army were veterans 
and conservative. They just wanted their bonus, and went about 

4 Stanley Frost, "Where Veterans Fell Among Friends," in The Outlook, Oct. 
10, 1923. 


getting it in a rather stupid way. Only after they had been dis- 
persed by force did they develop revolutionary sentiments, and 
then their movement was incipiently fascistic rather than com- 
munistic in nature. 

The theory of the Adjusted Compensation Act of 1924 was that 
the soldier had been treated worse, economically, than the civilian, 
and was thus entitled to a gratuity which would partially redress 
the balance. This was given in the form of an insurance policy 
which had no immediate cash value. At once there arose demands 
for the cash payment of the bonus. When, in 1927, it became pos- 
sible for veterans to borrow on these certificates, the Veterans' 
Bureau found itself in the small-loan business in a big way. By 
June 30, 1932, certificates to the number of 2,584,582 had been 
pledged for an amount of $1,369,042,679. There had been repeated 
and ever-increasing loans to many veterans. 

In 1932 the bonus was still unpaid, although Congress had recog- 
nized the veterans' moral claim to compensation by passing the 
adjusted compensation law. Needy veterans could no longer bor- 
row on their certificates, since they had already pledged them to 
the limit. The demand for cash payment became clamorous. Then 
there arose one of the most curious mass phenomena of history, a 
migration of thousands of veterans to Washington to present in 
person their claim for the immediate cash payment of the bonus. 
Nobody seems to have planned or inspired the movement. It just 
started, and, like miniature golf, marathon dancing, and other 
manias, it spread. 

The march appears to have begun with a party of veterans in 
need of the bonus who took off from Portland, Oregon, in old cars. 
By the time they reached Council Bluffs, Iowa, they were joined 
by many others. When they crossed the free bridge at St. Louis, 
they numbered at least 300 and included representatives from all 
parts of the West. Many of them were clad in tattered uniforms and 
carried cooking utensils. They had their own "military police," to 
keep order in the group and to prevent crimes against the civilian 
population. They commandeered a train at Caseyville, Illinois, and 
went to Indiana; the Indiana authorities obligingly furnished 
transportation to Ohio. In this manner, they went to Washington. 

Meanwhile, other cells of this curious organism appeared else- 
where, and all assembled and coalesced in Washington. On June 4, 


1932, a bonus-seeking army of 900 from Detroit, Toledo, and Cleve- 
land tried to commandeer a freight train at Cleveland but was 
balked by the police. On June 6 other contingents were reported on 
their way to Washington. On June 7, upwards of 7,000 Bonus 
Army marchers paraded on Pennsylvania Avenue, while an esti- 
mated 100,000 spectators lined the sidewalks. 

General Glassford, in charge of police in the District of Colum- 
bia, treated the B.E.F. with kindness. Himself a veteran, he felt 
that, however misguided, they were within their constitutional 
rights. At first he billeted them in vacant stores and government 
buildings, but they quickly overflowed these quarters and en- 
camped in Anacostia Flats just outside Washington. Soon there 
were thousands of them. They built crude huts from such materials 
as could be obtained at the city dumps: egg-crates, paper, roofing, 
scraps of lumber, etc. They took burdock leaves and long grass and 
wove them through chicken wire for roofing material. 

Soon there were 12,000 and then probably 20,000 impoverished 
veterans encamped near the Capitol and determined to stay there, 
as they put it, until 1945 if necessary. These men lived by charity. 
General Glassford was said to have contributed $773 from his own 
pocket. Other Washington citizens helped as well as they could. 
Soon the members of the B.E.F. were joined by their wives and 
children. Sanitary arrangements were extremely primitive, as in all 
the Hoovervilles of the time. There was great danger of an epi- 

All investigators agreed that these men were really veterans. One 
writer estimated that about sixty per cent of them were married. 
When they left Washington and went through Pennsylvania, they 
were investigated for the Pennsylvania Department of Welfare by 
Helen Glenn Tyson and Prentice Murphy, two well-known social 
workers, who pronounced them migrants of a high type and not 
mere floaters. There may even have been some professional men 
among them. However, some weeks after the dispersal of the army, 
Attorney General Mitchell published a report showing that of a 
group of 4,723 who had applied to the Veterans' Bureau for help, 
829 had been convicted of some criminal offense, and a large pro- 
portion for serious offenses, 138 for larceny, 66 for burglary, and 
so on. 

The B.E.F. maintained good discipline in camp and in Wash- 


ington. The official leader of the group was W. W. Waters, a thirty- 
four-year-old ex-canning factory superintendent of Portland, Ore- 
gon. Three times elected leader, he had been a sergeant and had 
an excellent war record. He administered the camp well, assigning 
newcomers to quarters and otherwise taking care of the needs of his 
army of homeless men. Waters was an ex-socialist, and had been out 
of work for more than a year. 

The Bonus Army veterans professed to be not at all radical in 
political ideology. They maintained a constant hunt for Reds, 
whom they ejected into the outer darkness upon discovery, though 
many of them were almost ready to concede that the Reds had some 
good ideas. There was a camp newspaper, a weekly called the 
"B.E.F. News," about which there was some mystery. It was sur- 
prisingly well edited, and no one unfamiliar with professional 
journalistic techniques could have produced it. 

A group of some 700, mainly from the Pacific Coast, became dis- 
satisfied with Waters' mild methods, and advocated the use of 
stronger pressures. This group, led by Roy Robertson, a pathetic 
sufferer whose health was so poor that he often fainted, engaged 
in a continuous, twenty-four hour picketing of Capitol Hill. They 
proved difficult for the police to handle. 

But the B.E.F. was not in any sense revolutionary. An unidenti- 
fied writer quoted in The New Republic, August 10, 1932, de- 
scribed the temper of the camp as follows: 

Personally, I'm convinced that the whole temper of the 
.bonus army is that of a Baptist camp meeting. Mr. Hoover is 
an evil man who is disobeying the commands of God in not 
giving them a bonus. Their reasoning proceeds thus: The flag 
is sacred; they fought for the flag; therefore some of the sacred- 
ness of the flag has been transmitted to them; this sacredness 
not only exists but is recognized by the "real" America which 
wants to give them a bonus; Mr. Hoover is frustrating the 
desire of the real America; consequently Mr. Hoover is trying 
to defile sacred things; consequently Mr. Hoover is an evil 
man who, in God's good time will receive his just deserts. 
Now you can't make a revolution out of that. 

Revolutionary the Bonus Army was not, but its members re- 
tained the soldier's irreverence and his talent for sour humor. 
Among the marching songs of the organization were "President 


Hoover, He's a bum," (sung no doubt to the tune of "Hallelujah, 
I'm a bum") and "My Bonus Lies Over the Ocean." Similar senti- 
ments were expressed in slogans written on their huts and jalopies. 
One man placed two crusts of bread and a glass of water on a stand 
in front of his shack; over this he put a sign, "Hoover Diet." An- 
other man exhibited two dried and bleached bones under the 
legend "Contributed by Senator Reed of Pennsylvania." Another 
veteran dug three graves in front of his hut, one each for Mellon, 
Dawes, and Hoover. But the members of the B.E.F. continued to 
curse bankers and communists with equal fervor. 

Through June and most of July the B.E.F. maintained its num- 
bers and its morale. An attempt was made to get the veterans out 
of the city by furnishing funds for the trip back home the same 
proposition that had been made to the bonus seekers who infested 
London in the time of Queen Elizabeth. Waters and his group 
resisted this, but a few members of the army took the bribe. The 
sum of $76,712.02 was advanced to 5,160 veterans at this time. 
Some took the money and remained in the city; others went home 
to recruit more members for the army, speaking at this time of an 
army of 100,000. 

Some unpleasant incidents arose as the idea of the B.E.F. began 
to lose its novelty. Someone, evidently without proper authority, 
called out the marines, and a clash was averted only by the presence 
of mind of a young officer and the discipline of that body. Then 
on July 28 officials of the Treasury Department attempted to clear 
the men out of some of the buildings. There was an encounter in 
which one of the bonus marchers was killed. Then came the order 
to General Douglas MacArthur to bring in the troops from Fort 
Meyer. He came in with infantry, cavalry, and five tanks. With 
military precision, and tear gas, and in accordance with the most 
up-to-date tactics, the Bonus Army was evicted from its shabby en- 
campment. The shacks were burned. Very likely all this was done 
without unnecessary cruelty, but the effects of the incident were 
bad. Hoover had made a political blunder from which a certain 
shrewd man in New York profited greatly. 

Somehow the rumor spread among the weary and homeless men 
that Johnstown, Pennsylvania, would receive them. Apparently 
Eddie McCloskey, the decidedly unorthodox mayor of that city, 
had in fact invited them to come there. About 5,000 of the march- 


ers managed to reach Johnstown, in spite of efforts to direct them 
elsewhere, and encamped in a park near the city. The people of 
Johnstown, particularly those who paid the taxes, were greatly per- 
turbed, but the camp was evacuated in a few days. Other members 
of the army came to New York City, where they lived for a time in 
a squalid Hooverville below Riverside Drive. 

Commander Waters tried for a time to keep his movement going, 
and planned a Utopian camp in Maryland, then turned his efforts 
to the organization of the "Khaki Shirts." The khaki shirt move- 
ment undoubtedly had many of the elements of fascism. In found- 
ing it, Waters used language not unlike Hitler's, calling upon all 
good citizens to join the movement to take "the United States Gov- 
ernment away from the moneyed powers, by legal means, and re- 
turn it to the common people, whose government it should be." 

After the dispersal, the B.E.F. assumed great political im- 
portance. The demand for cash payment of the bonus became more 
insistent because of public sympathy with the veterans. Members 
of the B.E.F. carried their message to all corners of the land. In 
New York City, Talcott Powell collected the following parody 
which expresses the sentiments of the group eloquently: 

Hoover is my shepherd, and I am in want. He maketh me 
to lie down on the park benches. He leadeth me beside the 
still factories. He restoreth my doubt in the Republican party. 
He leadeth me in the paths of destruction for his party's sake. 
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of starva- 
tion, I do fear evil for he is against me. His politics and the 
profiteers they frighten me. He preparest a reduction of wages 
before me in the presence of mine enemies. He anointest my 
income with taxes. My expenses runneth over. Surely poverty 
and unemployment will follow me all the days of this Hoover 
administration, and I will dwell in the poor house forever. 5 

The Bonus Expeditionary Force dramatized the failure of the 
nation to deal adequately with its veterans of World War I. If we 
had not neglected the veterans in the crucial five years after the 
war, if we had sought out the disabled, if we had helped the 
veterans to get on their feet and make a start in the world, if we 
had contrived to heal the veterans' attitudes, there would never 
have been a Bonus Army. 

5 Quoted by Talcott Powell, Tattered Banners. Harcourt Brace, 1933. At- 
tributed by Powell to R. E. Jacobs, who was active in the B.EJ. 

The Challenge 
Of The Veterans 
Of World War II 

IN the midst of the battle of Chancellorsville, while the issue 
was yet in doubt, General Lee sat calmly in his saddle, and fell 
to talking about the future of the brave young men in the 
armies of the South. He wondered what they would do to improve 
themselves when they were done with war. 

Lee had a special reason to be concerned about veterans. He 
knew what sometimes happened to heroes when their days of hero- 
ism were over. His father, the famous Light Horse Harry Lee, was 
the beau sabreur of the Revolution; he was a hero then, but he 
proved too unstable and inept for peace. Robert E. Lee was the son 
of a veteran who slowly deteriorated, committing follies and errors 
of judgment by the score, losing fortune and friends, even suffer- 
ing imprisonment for debt, until the day came when the very 
young Robert saw the father, crippled, disfigured, and discredited, 
a ruined and a beaten man, leave the family he loved and the 
State he had governed to find his death in a foreign land. He was 
a fine soldier, this father; "a man born for war," as Sandburg said 
of another. He seemed "to have come out of his mother's womb a 
soldier," but he was a poor veteran. In the end, he could not even 
die in peace in his native land. Perhaps Robert E. Lee thought of 
some of these things' in the days when he commanded armies and 
disposed of the destinies of men. 

We, too, may well pause to ponder what will happen to our 
young men whom we have exposed to death and destruction. What 
will happen to these war-made men when they must take up once 
more the ways of peace? How can we help them to find the road 



The veterans are already beginning to return. They will con- 
stitute about one-tenth of the population a very dynamic and 
dangerous tenth. They are the one-tenth that the other nine-tenths 
of the nation has used to fight a war, the tenth whose lives, limbs, 
eyes, health, and sanity we have used up recklessly in attaining 
the ends of national policy. They are the principal social problem 
of the coming years. Like no other group, the veterans command our 
minds and hearts today. The kind man pities them. The just man 
feels guilty toward them. The informed man fears them. 

Mot To Plan Now, Is To Plan Disaster 

We know from past experience that we must not be caught un- 
prepared. The veterans will descend upon us with frightening sud- 
denness, "Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard, jealous 
in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel," jabbering the patois of a 
dozen different foreign lands; resentful and explosive in unex- 
pected ways; men who know no trade but war, widely experienced 
with death but strangely nai've and unsophisticated; expecting jobs 
and good jobs too but lacking the skills or the stability to hold 
them; indignant over the good times and prosperity that civilians 
have enjoyed during the war; eager for life but unaware where or 
how to begin living; given to hectic gaiety and sullen depression; 
familiar with death, connoisseurs of death but illiterates of peace: 
they will be aliens in the land that bore them. Not to plan for 
their return is in fact to plan disaster. 

Some of the veterans will return with frightful wounds. Others 
will enjoy their pitiful share of the blessings of peace in institu- 
tions for the mentally deranged. Many more will be borderline 
mental cases who will never recover from the war. Some will beg 
and some will go to prison. Most will suffer in silence and will 
solve their own problems as best they can. All will be in need of 
some form of rehabilitation, the apparently normal along with 
the others. 

Experience has also taught us that the public will soon tire of 
veterans. So long as the veterans are safely out of sight, so long as 
the obligation to the veterans remains a theoretical matter, it is 
possible for most of us to think kindly of them. But this sympa- 
thetic attitude can easily change to hostility when the flesh-and- 


blood veterans return to our city streets, in need of everything and 
with a strong tendency to make unreasonable demands in a highly 
truculent manner. 

It is better to decide upon a policy beforehand, and to set up 
machinery and train personnel to carry out that policy, than to 
trust to spontaneous outpourings of the milk of human kindness, 
for history shows that the sources of this fluid often dry up at 
critical moments and flow too abundantly at the wrong time where 
veterans are concerned. Veterans are not very satisfactory as objects 
of charity. It will be better for us, if we can, to arrange to put them 
in a position where they will have no need of charity. 

When one thinks concretely of the veterans-to-be, it is difficult 
to realize that they will be the problematical element in our so- 
ciety. Before war came most of us did not consider these boys to be 
problems. Our soldiers are just ordinary American boys, how can 
war have changed them so much? We think of them as the boy 
scouts of a few years back, a little older now, the boys who sold 
Collier's and The Saturday Evening Post from door to door, who 
mowed our lawns, went to the local high school, and occasionally 
got into small scrapes as a result of moderate adventures in hell- 
raisingtypical middle-class Americans of the Andy Hardy type. 

You say you have known these boys all their lives. But have you? 
They were perfectly normal boys, you think. Yes, but they certainly 
did not have what we should ordinarily consider a normal Ameri- 
can boyhood. They were a blighted generation before they ever 
studied war. These present soldiers were depression children. They 
have never known peace. It is hard to predict what the impact of 
war and the inroads of veteran psychology will do to such people. 

During the years of depression these soldiers, most of them, lived 
in families haunted by the specter of insecurity. Many of their 
fathers lost their jobs, grew shabby, almost ceased to think of them- 
selves as men. Many of their families were on relief. Meals were 
sometimes scanty. Spending money was hard to get. Often the boys 
were glad to go to the CCC for its square meals, warm clothes, and 
the few dollars that went home to their families. Some of these boys 
went on the road one less mouth to feed at home. "Depression 
stiffs," the hoboes called them. Some of them married and went on 
relief, in accordance with the pleasant custom of the time. 

Most of the present generation of soldiers have known poverty, 


hunger, and the fear of the gaunt, grey wolf. Nearly all have 
known what it is to be unemployed. 

People in the comfortable, well-educated classes never quite 
realized what was happening to that generation of youngsters dur- 
ing the depression. A study made in the middle Thirties, published 
in a book, Youth Tell Their Story, 1 offered a great deal of in- 
formation about the attitudes and characteristics of our World 
War II soldiers in the years before war came. The study was based 
on interviews with a carefully selected sample of 13,500 Maryland 
youths, and its findings are probably reasonably correct for the 
entire country. The youths of that period, together with their 
younger brothers, make up our present army. 

Our Army: Men Who Did Not Believe in War 

The world had not been kind to those young men, even before 
the shadow of war overcast their lives. In those days there was an 
ominous gap between the completion of one's schooling and the be- 
ginning of one's working career. From forty to forty-six per cent of 
the youths studied had not obtained full employment within a year 
after leaving school. At the time of the study, about thirty per cent 
of the youth in the labor market were unemployed. 

Society gave little to these young men and expected much of 
them. Forty per cent had received no dental care in the year pre- 
vious to the study, but about one in five was supporting or helping 
to support his parents. Others felt that help was needed but were 
unable to give it. Those who had jobs worked long hours for little 
pay, often in blind-alley jobs. Many of them started work before 
the age of eighteen. They had no guidance and no effective voca- 
tional training; there was little relationship between the jobs they 
held and the training they had received. A large percentage of the 
group considered economic security their most urgent personal 

Most of the youth group were dissatisfied with the places where 
they lived. Forty-six per cent of farm youth wanted to move. Three 

l Howard M. Bell, Youth Tell Their Story, A Study of the Conditions and 
Attitudes of Young People in Maryland between the Ages of 16 and 24. Ameri- 
can Council on Education, Washington, D.C., 1938. 


out of four village youths would have moved if they had been able. 
Most of them wanted to settle in cities. 

The majority of youth regarded war as needless and preventable; 
60.7 per cent of all youth, males and females, so regarded it, and 
54.7 of the males. If war should come, 35.5 of the young men ex- 
pected to volunteer; 35.6 would go if drafted; 12.2 would go if in- 
vasion threatened; and 11.9 would refuse to go. The younger boys 
were more willing to go to war than the older ones. Of the sixteen- 
year-olds, 46.5 per cent expected to volunteer, while only 28.4 
per cent of the twenty-four-year-olds would volunteer. Only 10.3 per 
cent of the sixteen-year-olds would refuse to go, while 15.1 per cent 
of the twenty-four-years-olds expected to refuse. There was a rough 
correlation between amount of education and opposition to war: 
the more educated, the more opposed to war. 

Some of the typical attitudes expressed by the war-resisters were: 
"Better a live coward than a dead hero." "I'd cut off my finger so 
I couldn't shoot that gun." "I'd face a firing squad before I'd go 
out and shoot people." "I'd go in the bush till the war blew over." 
A young woman stated her attitude eloquently when she said, "I 
don't want no one-legged man." 

If we suppose that the young men of this Maryland survey, with 
their younger brothers, constitute our present army, the following 
conclusions are justified: 

(A) They are not enthusiastic about war. An army of ten mil- 
lion would include three and a half million patriots (volunteer), 
three and a half million realists (go if drafted), a million or more 
reluctant soldiers (go if invasion threatens), and a million to a mil- 
lion and a half one-time conscientious objectors to war. Five and a 
half million once regarded war as unnecessary and preventable. 

(B) Among the many war-resisters, or former war-resisters, the 
rate of psychiatric rejection and psychoneurotic breakdown is prob- 
ably very high. 

(C) The woman friends of the soldiers are more opposed to 
war than the soldiers themselves. Their attitudes do not help the 
young men to accept the harsh realities of war, and they will prob- 
ably not be too helpful to veterans in the post-war period. Here 
one thinks especially of the young woman who "didn't want no 
one-legged man." 


After the war, many veterans will expect to move to cities. The 
problem of caring for them in cities will be great. Problems cre- 
ated by desire for occupational mobility will also be great. 

This generation of soldiers had already been kicked around a 
great deal before the war, and had learned even before entering 
the army to look to the government for help. 

What may we suppose that war has made of these young men 
who had never received a very generous share of the American 
standard of living, who had known and feared economic insecurity 
from the cradle upwards, who did not believe in war, who did not 
want to fight, and who have been told what they were fighting 
against but never yet just what they were fighting for? What will 
they expect us to do for them when they return? What political 
creeds will they accept and what leaders will they follow? In spite 
of everything, these young men have been docile soldiers. Will they 
be equally docile as veterans? 

We cannot yet know the answers to these questions. The best 
that we can do is to prepare to do the veterans justice, and hope 
that they will be just. 


Helping the Veteran to Adjust 
to Peacetime Living 

The Human 


At Our Disposal 

IN our discussion so far, we have spoken of a sort of veteran type, 
overlooking the many variations in the group of veterans. This 
was a necessary device of exposition, which we must now aban- 
don for a time. In planning for the rehabilitation of veterans, we 
must allow for the infinite variability of personality. Rehabilita- 
tion procedure must be adapted to the needs of different age groups, 
to different levels of education and intelligence, to the married and 
unmarried, the rich and the poor, the lazy and energetic, and to a 
number of other variable characteristics. A uniform prescription 
will never do for a heterogeneous group of human beings. 

Let us, therefore, for the moment, forget our veteran type and 
look at the variations within the type. While detailed information 
concerning the social characteristics of the men in the armed forces 
has not been made available, enough has been published to give a 
rough idea of the sort of problem we face when the veterans re- 

The total number of men mobilized in the current war will prob- 
ably be somewhere between twelve and fifteen million. At the time 
of writing, the size of the Army has been fixed at 7,700,000 officers 
and enlisted men, while the Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard will 
shortly reach a maximum of 3,600,000. It is estimated the induc- 
tions will continue at the rate of 75,000 to 150,000 a month in order 
to maintain this figure. More than a million men have already been 
discharged from service in this war, of whom about 100,000 are 
already receiving pensions. 

How Old Are Our Veterans? Age Groups 

A recently published survey of soldiers' attitudes toward post- 
war education contains information that enables us to estimate the 



age distribution, level of education, and marital condition of the 
army, on the basis of a sample of 10,000 soldiers. 1 Computations 
based on this survey justify the following conclusions (the figures 
being approximate): 

28 per cent of our soldiers are between 18-20 years of age 
33 per cent of our soldiers are between 21-24 years of age 
21 per cent of our soldiers are between 25-30 years of age 
19 per cent of our soldiers are 30 years of age and over 

101 per cent 

It has been announced that the average age of the army in the 
early months of 1944 was twenty-seven. This age-level will prob- 
ably increase slowly as the war goes on, but the continued induc- 
tion of eighteen-year-olds will slow down the rate of increase con- 
siderably. If it becomes necessary to draft the older age groups, the 
average age will mount rapidly. 

In planning for rehabilitation, it will be necessary to consider 
the needs of different age groups. The large group of boys under 
twenty-one will be likely to respond to treatment in a different 
manner from the two-fifths of the soldiers who are twenty-five or 
over. We may suppose that most of the soldiers in the 21-24 age 
group have had little economic experience outside of the army, 
while those below twenty-one have had practically none. 

As to the educational level of the soldiers, the picture is rather 
discouraging. A little more than half of the soldiers have never 
finished high school. About a quarter have finished high school 
but no more. A small proportion, perhaps three per cent, have been 
graduated from college, while possibly a little more than a sixth 
have had some college training. Here our figures, based upon the 
survey, check reasonably well with the results of the earlier study, 
Youth Tell Their Story, which reported that of the out-of-school 
youth 39.1 per cent had completed eighth-grade education or less, 
23.7 had had some high-school training, 26.5 had graduated from 
high school, and 10.7 had gone beyond high school. 

1 "Soldiers' Attitudes Toward Post-War Education," in Education for Victory, 
Vol. 2, No. 17, March 3, 1944. The survey reported in this article was made 
by the Research Branch of the Morale Services Division of the Army Service 


Do They Want to Go Back to School? 

Not only the amount of schooling, but the attitude toward edu- 
cation varies widely among the soldiers. Seven per cent of the men 
believe that they will return to full-time school or college at the 
end of the war, whether or not they receive government aid. But 
many of the men included in this seven per cent are married, or had 
been out of school for more than a year before joining the army, 
or are more than twenty-five years old. Since each of these contin- 
gencies discourages school attendance, we may suppose that not 
more than four per cent would actually return to school without 
government aid, on the basis of present attitudes. 

Another seventeen per cent expect to return to part-time school 
or college, for the most part to business or trade courses. The con- 
dition of the labor market will affect these decisions profoundly. 
About eighty per cent of the soldiers state that they will return to 
school if they can get no job at all and if government aid for school- 
ing is available. As to the amount of government aid needed for 
schooling, sixty-two per cent of the soldiers would be satisfied 
with tuition, books, and fifty dollars a month, while thirty-eight 
per cent would require more. It should be noted that the soldiers 
probably have a very vague notion concerning what fifty dollars 
a month would purchase in the way of shelter, food, and clothing, 

The conclusion of the authors of the survey seems to be that the 
attitude of the soldiers toward education is generally lukewarm 
and somewhat inconsistent. However, a large number of soldiers 
would be inclined to accept educational aid if satisfactory jobs are 
not available. 

Along with these differences regarding education go the to-be- 
expected variations in intelligence. Intelligence scores of soldiers 
are probably distributed on a normal curve, with the lower ranges 
completely and the upper ranges partially excluded. The average 
soldier, with only a modest Intelligence Quotient and with high 
school education or less, is not an intellectual giant. Veterans in the 
lower intelligence and educational categories will be most likely 
to be problematical with regard to self-support, while the more 
intelligent and better educated will be likely to give trouble in 
other ways. 


Are They Equipped to Earn Their Living? 

As to the economic backgrounds of soldiers, there is the same 
variation. Bossard notes that more than half of the families of those 
inducted into military service in eastern urban areas are known to 
the social service exchanges in their area a very instructive and 
disturbing fact. 2 

Some of the soldiers have trades. Various attempts have been 
made to estimate the number of members of trade unions in the 
armed services, and this figure has sometimes been placed, by union 
statisticians, as high as 2,500,000. Many difficulties are involved in 
such estimates, of which a principal one is the problem of defining 
a member of a trade union. 

One fact stands out concerning the soldiers who had trades, or 
jobs, before the war: A high proportion of them were dissatisfied 
with their jobs and do not wish to return to them. A recent news- 
release of the OWI reveals that only one-fourth of the veterans dis- 
charged from hospitals during World War II have returned to 
their pre-service employment. 

Some of the soldiers have professions, although this group is rel- 
atively small. There are probably between 40,000-50,000 doctors in 
the armed services and at least 100,000 former school-teachers. 
Other professions, such as law, have also a large representation. We 
may suppose that in the post-war period many of the teachers will 
not return to their profession, while most of the lawyers and doctors 
will attempt to resume practice, but may experience some difficulty 
in building up a business. Likewise, some veterans will be ready 
and able to set up their own businesses, and will need help in get- 
ting started. 

A large number of soldiers had no economic experience before 
joining the army. Of this group, some have developed new skills 
applicable to civilian life, but more have not. Here much depends 
upon the soldier's rank and branch of the service. It is also neces- 
sary to consider the labor market. We shall, for example, have 
great numbers of skilled and perhaps too daring pilots, but there 
will be employment for only a small number in aviation, even if the 
coming years should be the "air age." 

2 James H. S. Bossard, "Family Problems in Wartime," in Psychiatry Journal 
of the Biology and Pathology of Interpersonal Relations, Feb. 1944. 


Planning for Differences Among Veterans 

On the basis of the survey cited above, we may suppose that 
about thirty-five per cent of the soldiers are married. Of this group, 
some will return to established families, and will have to face the 
sort of problems that war introduces into such families. Other 
soldiers have contracted war marriages, and these men must face 
the task of readjusting to civilian life and to the marriage relation- 
ship at one and the same time, while their wives must adjust to a 
husband and a veteran simultaneously. A great many parents of the 
present huge crop of G.I. babies must also adjust to the intimate 
responsibilities of parenthood. 

It seems likely that the adjustment problems of the unmarried 
group will be less complex, if not less severe, than those of the mar- 
ried. But different policies must be employed in the guidance of 
the two groups. 

While most of the soldiers will be relatively sound of body and 
mind, there will be a great many disabled. The physically disabled 
must learn to live with their disabilities; sometimes must learn new 
trades; must adjust their attitudes to their new condition in life. 
The great number certain to be discharged with hidden disabilities, 
such as tuberculosis or recurrent tropical disease, or latent or "de- 
layed" psychoneurosis, will constitute a problem both of case work 
and of public health. 

There will be a vast number of mentally disabled. Their read- 
justment will necessarily call into existence a whole new field of 
social work, and if this is not forthcoming, readjustment will not 
be accomplished. There will be an even greater number of border- 
line cases of mental illness, many of whom will refuse help and 
resist all attempts to treat them, preferring, as do other neurotics, 
to keep their neuroses and build their lives around them. 

Programs of rehabilitation must provide for the different needs 
of the sound and the disabled, must differentiate between the phy- 
sically and the mentally ill, and must recognize such divergent types 
as the psychotic, the neurotic, and the marginally psychoneurotic. 

Just so will the attitudes of veterans vary, each constellation 
necessitating a differentiation of treatment. The prevailing emo- 
tional tone of many, no doubt, will be one of bitterness and re- 
sentment, but this will vary greatly in intensity and duration and 


will show itself in different forms, sometimes as a slow-burning 
anger and sometimes as explosive rage. There will be other vari- 
ations of attitude; some veterans will bring back with them a driv- 
ing compulsion to work hard to get established in the world, to 
make up for lost time; they will "work as if they were killing 
snakes." But others will be mentally set to be supported for the 
rest of their lives, "too lazy to say sooey if the hogs had them." 
Some veterans will be loud-mouthed and full of words, others taci- 
turn and morose. There is also a time dimension to the variations 
in veteran psychology. For many, the period of acute maladjust- 
ment will quickly pass, while with others it will persist throughout 

In planning for the return of the veterans, we must bear these 
differences of traits and conditions in mind. We cannot expect to 
apply the same methods to all. While providing for the needs of the 
entire group, we must see clearly the idiosyncrasies of the indi- 
vidual case, and must adapt our methods and procedures to the 
requirements of each particular flesh and blood ex-soldier. Every 
human being has his own unique individuality; he is, in some re- 
spects, unlike anyone else in the world. We must make sure that, 
in providing for the mass of men, we do not overlook the unique 
individual. Indeed, we must proceed upon the social-worker's prin- 
ciple that each veteran is a case unto himself. 

Objectives And 

Principles Of 

A Veterans' Program 

MANY worthy enterprises fail because the actors in them do 
not see with sufficient clarity what it is that they wish to do 
or do not understand how the means employed are related 
to the ends desired. Let us, therefore, at the risk of seeming to 
counsel perfection, state our objectives and principles as clearly 
as possible. 

The one great objective of rehabilitation is to remedy the dam- 
age of war. We have already analyzed this damage and found it to 
consist of several distinct elements, each of which calls for a dis- 
tinct task of rehabilitation procedure. The objectives of rehabilita- 
tion may therefore be stated as follows: 

(1) To restore the veteran to the competitive position which 
he would have occupied if he had never been called for military 

(2) To reinstate him in the communicative process of society, 
making him a civilian once more, with the knowledge, interests, 
habits, and sentiments of a civilian. 

(3) To encourage and help him to overcome any handicaps, 
physical or mental, which he may have incurred as a result of 

(4) To assist him to take his place once more in the political 
life of community, state, and nation. 

(5) To help and encourage him to overcome attitudes of bitter- 
ness and antagonism, and to establish a normal and rewarding 
relation with family, church, and community. 

In all the work of rehabilitation it would be wise to keep these 
purposes clearly in mind, and attempt to devise means to these ends, 
revising and improvising the means from time to time, but never 



changing or losing sight of the ends. If further analysis of the dam- 
age of war reveals other objectives of rehabilitation, they should 
be added to the list. 

It should be emphasized that at present we have insufficient 
knowledge of the methods to employ in reaching these objectives, 
and lack the necessary means. We must feel our way toward them, 
improvising methods, constantly inventing new methods and aban- 
doning them where they do not work, but being sure to make use 
of all the lessons and experiences of the past. The job of rehabili- 
tation has never been done before in a society like ours; hence, we 
must feel our way. But we have accumulated a considerable body 
of past experience from which we should not neglect to draw the 
proper lessons. 

Must Be Administered under a Flag of Truce 

The work of rehabilitation must take place under a flag of truce. 
Those who work with veterans must be neutral in the embittered 
domestic struggles of the post-war world. No one must endanger 
the work of rehabilitation by introducing into it anything that 
pertains to factional dispute. 

In American life, the work of many important institutions goes 
on in such an area of neutrality. Public schools must reach all the 
children of all the people, and all must pay for their support; we 
have learned, therefore, to exclude religious disputes and political 
factionalism as far as possible from the schools. Any violation of 
this truce any attempt, for example, to use the schools to foster 
a new religion or to make a new social order injures the work of 
the schools. Likewise, social work must carry on its ministrations 
without taking sides on many great controversies. Its practitioners 
have the privilege of helping human beings out of trouble and of 
alleviating human misery but are thereby estopped from any at- 
tempt to make a revolution. 

So it will have to be with the work of rehabilitating the veteran. 
The needs of the veteran must come first. No one must be allowed 
to get control of the program who would use it for any other pur- 
pose, however worthy he may deem that purpose to be. The per- 
sons who do the job must be fanatics about veterans and about 
nothing else. They cannot take sides on other questions. They 


cannot make use of the rehabilitation program for veterans in fur- 
thering any other cause. 

We may be sure that a struggle will take place over this issue. 
The veterans' bitterness is the great political force of the years to 
come. Many persons will attempt to direct it and to make use of it 
for their own ends, to make themselves rich, or to destroy their 
enemies, or to topple the social system to the right or the left. 
Radicals will try to make revolutionaries of the veterans. Well- 
meaning do-gooders will try to make them pinko-liberal. Labor 
leaders will be eager to enlist them on their side. Reactionaries 
will try to reach the veteran with cleverly phrased propaganda. 
"Hate-groups" and "love-groups" of every shade and hue from the 
Ku Klux Klan to the Prohibitionists will try to utilize the resent- 
ment of the ex-soldiers for their social purposes. Every one of these 
persons has a cause; nearly all of them regard their cause as just 
and honorable. Every one would be happy to make use of the pro- 
gram of rehabilitating veterans in the interest of his own cause. 
None must succeed in capturing such a program, or there will be 
no such thing as rehabilitation. 

Political and social neutrality in the rehabilitation of veterans 
is by no means impossible. We have invented a piece of social 
machinery well adapted to assuring such neutrality. That machine 
is the representative board. Let the work of rehabilitation be 
watched over at every stage by such a board, and it will be neu- 
tral. On the board should be representatives chosen in accordance 
with every principal cleavage in society: capital and labor, Negro 
and white, Catholic and Protestant, Jew and gentile, radical and 
reactionary. The board should, of course, be bipartisan, and should 
so far as possible represent different shades of political belief. Put 
representatives of all such groups on the board, let them watch 
over policy not administer and the veterans' program will be 

Veterans: A Key in Post- War Planning 

Needs of the veteran must be considered in post-war planning. 
The air is thick with post-war plans. Every interested party has its 
plan for the domestic economy and for international relations, a 
plan in which its own interests will not suffer. A few responsible 


citizens and a few sober scholars have serious and well-considered 
plans. They are in the minority, because every zany, crank, pub- 
licity-seeker, international crook, wise guy, or just plain fool also 
has a plan. When such thinkers go in for social planning, the won- 
der is, as Dr. Johnson might have put it, not that they do it well, 
but that they can do it at all. 

Post-war plans must consider the special needs of the veteran, 
and for the most part they do not. In the post-war years, millions 
of veterans will be making the most difficult adjustments of their 
lives, finding occupations, building families, getting their belated 
start in the world. The probabilities are that these young men are 
going to be concentrated in cities; many will never return to farms 
and villages. Probably the young women will follow them to the 
cities. These young men and young women will be restless in their 
behavior, exigent in their demands. Some few will have plenty 
of money; most will be poor. They will be politically capable of 
ruling the country; they will have the votes and the motivation. 
Start your economic and social planning from there. The veterans 
are the group for which some sort of plan is most urgently neces- 
sary. Plan specifically for them and their needs. 

Veterans can be reassimilated into society only through partici- 
pating in social life. The objectives of rehabilitation include get- 
ting the soldier back into the communicative process and reincor- 
porating him in the established patterns of family, community, 
church, and political life. The veteran must learn to participate 
in civilian life; he must find satisfactions there , form habits, read- 
just his emotions, acquire a stake in the moral order, learn to plan 
for himself and to discipline himself from within. All this he can 
only do by real group living. We cannot bring such things to pass 
by wrapping something in a package and handing it to the veteran. 
A set of lectures, however good, a series of pamphlets, however 
brilliantly written, or a nicely organized group of propaganda 
movies will never make the soldier a civilian again. The soldier 
must participate; he must join in, and of his own free will. 

They Must Share in Planning for Themselves 

The natural beginning of this participation is to let the veteran 
have, a share in planning his own future. In the army, one has little 


opportunity to plan for himself. It is the part of virtue to submit, 
to do as one is told, to take what comes. The transition to self- 
initiated plans is difficult and could easily be impeded by an at- 
tempt to handle the reeducation and reemployment of veterans by 
mechanical, mass methods. Personal relationships must somehow 
appear in this work. The veteran's own wishes must be consulted. 
Like the child in the progressive school, the veteran must be com- 
pelled to do as he pleases whether he wants to or not. 

Readjustment to the community demands natural, spontaneous 
participation in some phase of community life. To arrange for this 
kind of thing is one of the most difficult problems in the whole 
field of social engineering. Organization is necessary in order to 
give veterans or any other group an opportunity for spontaneous 
social life, but organization often kills spontaneity. Many settle- 
ment houses, churches, and colleges have failed in their attempts to 
organize a social life in such a manner and keep it attractive to 
their clientele. There are a few gifted persons who have the know- 
how of making such things run. A hint derived from a study of 
their methods is to give wide latitude to self-organized groups, and 
to be lavish in praise of such attempts but fertile in suggestions for 
which one never takes the credit. The moral is that the veterans 
must organize their own pattern of participation, under such guid- 
ance as can be given without destroying their sense of spontaneous 

Assimilation Through Veterans' Organizations 

Group-Wise Assimilation. As the veteran comes to participate 
in community life, he is caught up in the ongoing communicative 
process, and he becomes a civilian. It is significant that this process 
tends to take place in groups of veterans, and that these groups, 
rather than single veterans, become assimilated to society (hence 
the term "group-wise") . 

As we have noted earlier, the veteran, for a considerable time 
after demobilization, must depend heavily upon the society of his 
comrades. His fellow veterans understand him and sympathize with 
his attitudes, but civilians do not understand and cannot sympa- 
thize. The veterans' attitudes isolate him from the fellowship of 
civilians, and he usually has at least a mild antagonism toward 


them. Toward other veterans he retains some of the fierce loyalty 
of fighting men, and the remnants of that old solidarity make his 
association with them meaningful. 

Relatively isolated otherwise in civilian society, veterans seek one 
another out to form little clumps, nodules, and groups. These 
agglomerations of men are already a society, and in fact a civilian 
society. In these groups the ex-soldier learns once more the ways 
of discussion and overcomes his antipathy to the arts of persuasion. 
In the society of veterans, he submits once again to being convinced 
rather than commanded. He learns to mend his own rough ways, 
civilizes his language, expresses many of his resentments and thus 
renders them harmless, and in short becomes socialized once more. 

Veterans' Organizations. Grouping of ex-soldiers arises spon- 
taneously in answer to the social needs of demobilized veterans. 
Sooner or later such groups, some of them, become formalized by 
organization. The veterans' organizations so produced play a most 
important part in the reassimilation of the veteran in society. 

The emergence of a formal organization of any such group rests 
upon a sort of compromise with the surrounding society. Society 
tolerates the group, permits it to meet, gives it status, and endows 
it with respectability. In return, the group subscribes to certain 
social principles and often changes the nature of its leadership in 
the direction of social acceptability. 1 Cellar clubs of adolescents 
began as socially rebellious groups, but when they achieved tolera- 
tion they became harmless social clubs. As one phase of this meta- 
morphosis, there was a change of leadership, which put a socially 
acceptable "front man" in charge of the organization. Similarly, 
dangerous and vicious gangs may become harmless when recog- 
nized and incorporated in society; in many such cases, the gang 
gives up something and society gives up something and the gang 
becomes a political machine. 

A compromise between the veterans and the rest of society is 
implicit in the formation of the veterans' organization. Society 
gives to such a group recognition and a secure place in the social 
hierarchy. Society permits the group to organize and hold meet- 
ings, helps it to find a house to shelter its activities, respects its 

1 For this interpretation I am indebted to William Henderson, who was 
killed in 1942 while serving as a Lieutenant in the Air Force. Henderson de- 
rived the principle from a study of New York City's cellar clubs of adolescents, 
a study that he carried on in connection with his work for Greenwich House. 


uniforms and attends its parades, gives to the group, when duly 
put on notice to do so, the reverence owing to men who have 
fought for their country. The veterans' organization receives a 
privileged status that permits it to raise money by bingo games, 
and boxing shows, and to hold meetings at which the members con- 
duct a mild flirtation with sin. 

In accordance with this contract, which like many another is 
"the more binding for being unspoken," the veterans also give up 
something. They give up, in so far as in them lies the power to do 
so, their bitterness against the society that sent them to war and 
requited their sacrifices so poorly. They accept certain social re- 
sponsibilities as their special charge. There is a gradual meta- 
morphosis in their status and responsibilities as the veterans pro- 
gress from youth to age. 

In its earliest period of life, the veterans' organization finds its 
chief interest in the attempt to secure adequate care for the disabled 
and for the dependents of their fallen comrades. There is a great 
tendency for the disabled to be neglected in the period immediately 
following a war, and the veterans' organization performs a great 
service in pressing for satisfaction of the needs of this group. The 
widows and orphans of the slain are also in need of help, and the 
veterans have an opportunity to find their own souls in helping 

To some extent in the Grand Army of the Republic, and to a 
very great extent in the American Legion, these objectives were 
gradually extended to include wide social aims of a philanthropic 
nature. A concern for the children of veterans is easily expanded 
into a concern for all children. Besides, considerations of national 
defence necessitate proper care for all children, and so child wel- 
fare in the broadest sense becomes a proper objective of the Ameri- 
can Legion. Every good cause is inextricably interwoven with cer- 
tain other good causes, and this fact sooner or later involves the 
veterans' organization, in one way or another, in the struggle for 
social betterment. 

There are many persons to whom this view of veterans' organi- 
zations may seem far from the facts. They remember the pension 
exactions of the Grand Army of the Republic, and they quarrel 
with the ideology of the American Legion. The Grand Army of the 
Republic, as it happened, fell into the hands of a group of poli- 


ticians who used pensions as a means of mobilizing voting power. 
The pension system after the Civil War arose from the fact that a 
system of taxation, which certain interested parties wished to con- 
tinue, poured into the treasury funds that somehow had to be 
expended, and the veterans were a suitable object of expenditure. 
If blame attached to anyone for this procedure, it was to the poli- 
ticians far more than to the veterans. Pension agitation for the 
veterans of World War I has never been on the same scale. Vet- 
erans, however, would be more or less than human if in the exer- 
cise of their great political power they did not sometimes employ 
that power in their own interest. 

At the end of the present war, the presence of two large groups 
of veterans will create a situation without parallel in our history. 
There is no doubt that veterans will dominate our political life for 
some time to come. 

Scientific Screening for Disabilities 

During the post-war period, every community should make an 
active search for cases of disability, and should give to the disabled 
such assistance as may be necessary to obtain prompt and just 
settlement of their claims. Such a policy will prove to be not merely 
humane, but also excellent business. In the long run, it will save 
money. It will be to the interest of local communities to help in 
making these claims, because in that way they will transfer certain 
obligations from local to federal budgets. It will be to the interest 
of the Federal government to have all legitimate claims presented 
promptly and settled fairly, because this will make it easier to re- 
ject fraudulent claims in after years. 

The necessity for a search for disability cases could be avoided 
only by prolonging the demobilization process over a period of 
years, and releasing veterans only after a series of physical exami- 
nations equal in thoroughness to those given at the famed Mayo 
Clinic. Of course this is not possible, and we shall therefore turn 
loose a great number of men suffering from various service-con- 
nected disabilities. Military service produces great numbers of 
used-up men, and often the nature and extent of disability does 
not become clear until months or years after discharge. 

If an active search for these cases is not made, thousands, per- 


haps hundreds of thousands, of those who have honorable and 
legitimate claims will be overlooked during the early years that are 
the golden period for recovery and rehabilitation. If we do not 
try to find such cases, thousands of tubercular veterans will go to 
the West in the hope of recovering their health by a change of 
climate. Thousands of others will be unable to make a living and 
they will beg. More thousands at least 15,000 if we follow the 
yardstick of World War I will carry service-connected disabilities 
to prison with them. 

If we do not search out the legitimately disabled, many of them 
will never press their claims. They will die, proudly keeping their 
secrets, and then perhaps their widows and orphans will become 
public charges. They will pawn their Purple Hearts to get money 
to buy food for their children; the pawnshop windows will be full 
of medals and a man will be able to buy any medal he wants for a 
dollar or so. Others will feel that it is more honorable to rob than 
to beg, and they will rob. We repeat: To care for these people is 
not merely humane; it is good business. 

The fakers, the chisellers, the fraudulent wounded who flourish 
after every war will never hesitate to press their claims. Neglect of 
veterans never affects them. They will camp on the doorstep of 
the army surgeon until he satisfies their demands. They will get 
the benefits for which others are too proud to apply. Years after 
the war, when the public conscience has been awakened, the period 
of neglect of the veterans will come to an end, but the fact that 
there was such a period will be very useful to the fraudulently dis- 
abled, as happened in the wake of World War I. We shall have to 
presume that all disabilities of a certain date are service-connected, 
and in order to compensate the legitimately disabled we shall have 
to compensate also a great many frauds. 

Pauperization and Unlovely Traits of Veterans 

Timely and adequate help for the disabled will take away most 
of the pathos that enables a veteran to make his living by begging 
and thus to become pauperized. If there is no "Brother, can you 
spare a dime?" period after the war, there will be fewer paupers. 

Many good people believe that help to veterans should be limited 
in amount, because adequate care will be pauperizing. This is a 


misconception. Help can be given in such a way as to pauperize, 
especially if it is the wrong kind of help and is administered with- 
out proper attention to the nature and needs of the individual. 
But, for the most part, the policy that pauperizes is the one that 
fails to provide help, that neglects the needs of the veteran and 
thus forces him to depend upon the charity of passers-by. Adequate 
care, properly administered, prevents pauperization. It also is good 

One kind of disability in particular calls for the ministrations of 
the most skilled social workers in the country, if we are to avoid 
being saddled with terrific costs for the care of demoralized and 
pauperized veterans. The hundreds of thousands of psychoneurotics 
will require intelligent treatment in order to save a great propor- 
tion of them from becoming public charges. Pensions, or mere com- 
pensation, will never do for this group. Pensions, in many cases, 
will give them a social gain from neurosis, which will make recov- 
ery impossible. 

Unlovely Traits of Veterans. We may suppose that at some time 
in the operation of the national program for helping veterans some 
thousands of non-professional persons will be called upon to help. 
Such persons are due for some surprises. 

Charitable work is very rewarding when Lady Bountiful comes 
into the poor widow's home with a Christmas basket, and finds the 
widow is a lovely, gentle woman who works hard, manages well, 
keeps her home clean, brings up her children with loving care and 
excellent judgment, and does the best she can with her limited 
economic resources. For the very best results, everyone must be ex- 
tremely grateful for the joy that Lady Bountiful brings into those 
drab lives. It does not often turn out in just that way. 

A certain number of the veterans in need of help will be grateful, 
cooperative, and intelligent. Their cases will probably be handled 
reasonably well and their affairs will almost certainly prosper. We 
need give no more thought to this small group. 

But there will be a great many of the veterans, as of all such 
groups, who are stubborn, wilful, and wrongheaded, many who are 
ignorant, stupid, dirty, cantankerous, extravagant, and ungrateful. 
Some will be immoral or criminal, and will contribute to their own 
misery by their own bad judgment and misbehavior. 

It will be well for the amateur social worker to bear in mind 


that it is precisely because of their own difficult qualities that many 
of these persons are in need of help. They are ignorant and stupid 
and cantankerous; that is what is wrong with them. Their attitudes 
are very bad, of course; they are sick and that is the nature of their 
illness. They won't help themselves, and can't because they won't. 
But we cannot on that account cast them into outer darkness. That 
is the point where treatment must begin with their attitudes. 
There is no great virtue in just taking care of the deserving poor. 
Everybody does that. The undeserving poor need help much more, 
and there are more of them. And the strange thing is a bad man 
gets just as hungry as a good man. 

Learning to accept such unlovely persons and to deal with them 
is the beginning of wisdom in human relations. One cannot man- 
age them, or make their decisions for them; they must learn to 
make their own decisions. They must find their own way out, and 
the worker can help only a little. It goes without saying that such 
persons will not often be grateful for what is done for them, That 
is part of their maladjustment. It takes a rather strong man to 
support the crushing burden of gratitude. 

Professional social workers have perfected their skills and dis- 
ciplines for dealing with delicate problems and unstable personal- 
ities. There is at present an alarming shortage of properly trained 
social workers, with every prospect that we shall carry this shortage 
into the post-war period. Nevertheless, we should plan to turn over 
as much as possible of the work with difficult cases to persons 
trained for such work. And certainly we should begin at once to 
train a small new army of social workers to help us win, if that 
is possible, the battle of the peace. 

What the Local 
Community Can Do: 
A Program 

WHILE much of the work of rehabilitating veterans can be 
accomplished by Federal and State agencies, its most im- 
portant phases can be carried on only by local com- 
munities. Local communities must search out many cases of dis- 
ability and assist them in pressing their claims. Local communities 
must find a job for the returning veteran, later for the occupa- 
tionally rehabilitated veteran, and must help him to work out a 
pattern of family and community relationships. They must break 
down the veteran's barriers and get in communication with him. 
They must get the veteran into politics and make him into a citizen 
once more. They must teach the veteran to work for community 

In short, the real work of rehabilitation must be done in the 
local community. There are two points that can never be stressed 
too much: That every veteran is in need of some sort of rehabilita- 
tion, and that the job must be done in the local community. It is 
the job of the local community to make the veteran a civilian 
again, to train him to think, feel, and act like a civilian once more. 

Normally, one would expect to find local communities strongly 
organized and ready to tackle such a task at the end of a war. This 
is not true at the present time, except for rural areas and some 
smaller cities, that part of the war program having been feloniously 
mismanaged in Washington. Where community organization has 
actually taken place during this war, few thanks are due to the 
central administration. Nevertheless, if the job of rehabilitation is 
to be done, local communities must organize for it. Each com- 
munity must prepare to receive back into the fold approximately 
a tenth of its population, and a very dynamic and dangerous tenth. 

Community organization, as the phrase is usually employed, 



means the organization of the resources of a community in order 
to deal with some problem or to accomplish some community pur- 
pose. It means, as good people think of it, the organization of men 
of good will for worthy purposes. But any mobilization and con- 
centration of community energies on a particular project is com- 
munity organization, whether the purpose is to put over a drive for 
a community chest, to build a new high school, to buy equipment 
for the fire department, or to carry the community for the Ku Klux 
Klan. Thus a great many of the best community organizers in the 
country are persons who have never heard of the term. 

The usual practice in community organization is to depend 
heavily upon the leaders of institutions and agencies and upon per- 
sons who in the past have shown themselves concerned with com- 
munity welfare. Included in this group would be educators, preach- 
ers, social workers, merchants, industrialists, lawyers, etc. Service 
clubs, such as Rotary and Kiwanis, have played an increasingly 
important part in community organization through the years. 
While these groups should certainly not be neglected in organizing 
communities for the return of the veteran, it is likely that the most 
dynamic leadership will come from the veterans' organizations. 

Techniques of Organizing Local Communities 

The work of community organization may be done by either 
amateurs or professionals with almost equal effectiveness. The ama- 
teur, being a member of the community, has a detailed knowledge 
of community alignments, which the professional often lacks, and 
may, because of his secure status in the community, use rough-and- 
ready methods that professionals must avoid. If through lack of 
skill he makes mistakes, as he almost certainly will, the amateur 
community organizer is able to overcome these errors by persistence 
and by his command of the realities of local politics. Against the 
amateur should be recorded the probability that his understanding 
of the purposes for which the community is to be organized is less 
sure and extensive than that of the trained professional. Even 
more serious is the amateur's lack of realization of the intercon- 
nectedness of good causes, and his tendency to do damage in other 
fields while promoting the cause that is dear to his own heart. 

Where a professional organizes the community he is usually act- 


ing as the representative of a national or State agency and is trying 
to bring the local community into line with the program of the 
agency. After World War I the Red Cross did much of the work 
of organizing communities to take care of veterans and other post- 
war problems. The methods employed by one extraordinary or- 
ganizer are described in the chapter on Dale County in Walter 
Pettit's Case Studies in Community Organization. 1 One of the 
worker's devices, a common one, was to get local backing for her 
projects by sending out many of her letters over the signature of 
local citizens. Some of her other principles were: 

(1) To avoid any expression of opinion with reference to fac- 

tional disputes in the county. 

(2) To attempt to create the impression that the Red Cross is 
non-sectarian, non-political, and non-factional. 

(3) Not to attempt to convince people by talking of social 
work in the abstract, but to put before them actual, con- 
crete cases and thus to educate them. 

(4) To educate the members of the committee by conferences 
and by taking them on visits. 

(5) To use as many volunteers as possible, but not to solicit 
volunteers until there is a definite need for them. 

(6) To call meetings only with a definite purpose. 

This same worker, whose story the interested reader should study, 
was particularly skillful in her handling of groups and organiza- 
tions of veterans. She stressed the practice of making an active 
search for cases of disability among veterans. 

There are other "secrets of the trade" of community organization 
that the writer is loath to give away in print, especially in a book 
intended to reach a general audience. Perhaps the professionals 
will forgive him for revealing their chief secret, which is: One must 
not expect praise for such activity, however selfless and devoted his 
work may be; he must give all the praise to others for their minor 
contributions. That is how he gets others to work for him. If the 
work goes well, that must be triumph enough for the person who 
engineers the job, and he must publicly give all the credit to others. 
Such selflessness is rare. So are good community organizers. 

Another hint seems justified on this subject, although it is not at 

1 Walter Pettit, Case Studies in Community Organization. Century, 1928. 


all orthodox doctrine. In setting up a board, or agency, to mobilize 
community resources on behalf of veterans, it would be well not to 
rely wholly upon good men, upon do-gooders, but to include a cer- 
tain number of hard and practical men who are accustomed to 
getting things done, even though these men have the reputation of 
being liars and swearers and are in general tough customers. The 
trouble with do-gooders is that in their universe the means em- 
ployed are chronically inadequate to bring about the ends en- 
visaged. They often fail, therefore, when confronted with such 
tough, practical problems as that of preventing race riots or ar- 
ranging for the return of the veteran to society. 

It is generally regarded as the best practice in all sorts of welfare 
work to use existing agencies wherever possible. There is a great 
temptation for a person who is much impressed by some new 
problem to attempt to set up a new agency, disregarding the con- 
tributions that can be made to the situation by existing agencies. 
It is wiser to refer many kinds of problems to agencies already 
established, thus making full use of their skill and experience, and 
to construct new machinery only when this is unavoidable. 

Current experience with the veteran problem demonstrates once 
more the validity of another of the commonplaces of welfare work: 
That all such work must be organized and coordinated in such a 
way as to avoid duplication and competition of agencies and to 
make the full use of all agencies and community resources. Ten 
thousand men, runs the old saw, cannot throw a cannon ball much 
further than one man, because ten thousand men cannot get hold 
of it. So with the veteran problem; a dozen agencies, duplicating 
services, competing for clients, and feuding over jurisdiction cannot 
do very much more than a single agency working alone and unim- 
peded. But if someone organizes and coordinates the work of a 
dozen agencies and assigns to each its proper sphere of operation, 
their effectiveness will greatly increase. There must be, then, central 
planning and coordination in the attack upon the veteran problem. 

A Basic Minimum Program for the Community 

Specifically, community organization for the returning veterans 
should provide at least the following things: 

(1) Machinery for getting the names of all veterans, whether local 


boys or migrants, as soon as possible after their release from the 
army. Draft boards can supply the names of the local inductees. 
Some other way must be found to establish contact with the mi- 
grants. There will undoubtedly be large numbers of these migrants 
in the urban areas. 

(2) A preliminary interview to give the veteran a welcome to his 
home, to discover his needs, and to arrange for 

(3) Referral to: 

(a) Employment agencies for those ready, willing, able, and 
sufficiently skilled to accept immediate job placement. 
These agencies should systematically assess the job pos- 
sibilities of the local community. 

(b) Persons trained in evaluating and pressing claims for 
disability. Veterans' organizations are most likely to be 
of help in this respect, as they have had years of expe- 
rience with just this sort of thing. 

(c) Guidance workers competent to give the younger vet- 
erans advice concerning choice of vocation, plans for 
vocational training, etc. 

(4) Adaptation of welfare- and case-working agencies to the 
needs of the veterans' group. This would include not merely family 
welfare agencies and the relief organization, but in many cases, 
organizations which give legal aid. Welfare workers should prepare 
to give special attention to the problems of psychoneurotic cases 
among veterans. 

(5) Adaptation of the school system to veterans whose schooling 
can be provided in the local community. 

(6) Provision of medical and social work facilities for an active 
search for cases of disability among returning veterans. 

(7) Provision of small-loan services for needy veterans and larger 
loans for veterans wishing to start business or buy homes or farms. 

An Example: New York's Veteran Service Center 

An ideal organization of community services for veterans is the 
Veterans' Service Center established in New York City by Mrs. 
Anna M. Rosenberg under the auspices of the Selective Service and 
the War Manpower Commission. Intended as a demonstration of 
what communities can do to help veterans, the Veterans' Service 


Center proved its usefulness by giving aid to more than 4,000 vet- 
erans in its first month of existence. 

Usually such an agency would seek to be principally a clearing 
house helping ex-soldiers by referring them to the proper agencies. 
Like any other large city, New York has such a wealth of social 
agencies that a veteran seeking aid would not know which one he 
should consult with his particular problem. Intelligent referral of 
cases calls for such specialized knowledge and skill as to justify the 
existence of a veterans' center. 

However, the New York Veterans' Service Center has been able 
to handle many cases by means of its own resources, which provide 
such services as an employment bureau, vocational guidance, physi- 
cal examinations, and the help of a case worker in coping with 
personal problems. The value of such a coordinated battery of 
services is very great, which is demonstrated by the large number of 
veterans who elect to take advantage of two or more services. The 
effect of this coordination of services upon the veteran's morale is 
considerable. If a veteran, for example, needs a physical check-up, 
vocational guidance, help in finding employment, and assistance 
with personal problems, it would ordinarily be necessary for him 
to turn to several agencies to get these services, and he might feel 
before he was through that he was "getting the run-around," but 
the Veterans' Service Center is organized to give all these services 
without delay, perhaps on a single day. Since the Service Center is 
in the hands of skilled social workers, it is possible to make the 
differentiation between the services which the veteran requests and 
those which he really needs. A cheerful, informally furnished wait- 
ing room adds much to the atmosphere of the Center. 

New York City has, of course, far more facilities for helping vet- 
erans than are possessed by smaller cities. However, as the workers 
at the Center point out, the objectives of the smaller community 
are the same as those of New York, and the needs of the veteran are 
the same, wherever he may be located. It is planned to extend this 
experiment to a number of other cities, making use of the New 
York City experience. 

The veterans' programs of even the smaller communities should 
thus include a wide mobilization of community resources to meet 
the needs of veterans. The focus of these activities might well be 
furnished by a veterans' service center, similar to that of New York 


City, in which representatives of various agencies would be access- 
ible. This center should carry on its own testing and placement 
program, perhaps in cooperation with industry but in some cases 
independently. Various other aids should be furnished by the cen- 
ter or by other social agencies interested in veterans. Group work 
and recreation, if the community can afford it, will pay off hand- 
somely in the long run. The least that any community can do is to 
provide a meeting place or "hangout" for returning veterans. For 
all these services, trained personnel will be scarce, and authorities 
in charge of training programs should give the matter immediate 
attention. 2 

As the veterans return, thousands of heartless rackets will arise to 
separate them from their money. No one can say what these will be. 
Crooks without imagination will resort to such trustworthy dodges 
as the fur neck piece, the badger game, and the myth of the Spanish 
prisoner, and human ingenuity will devise a multitude of new 
swindles. No doubt the loan sharks are already whetting their teeth 
for the returning veterans. Protection of the veterans from these 
people is a major responsibility of the community. 

If communities are not properly organized for returning veterans, 
the results will undoubtedly be bad. The veterans will be turned 
over, as soldiers have so often been in time of war, to the lowest 
elements of the population. Possibly the "good people" of the com- 
munity will not want to have anything to do with veterans. If so, 
the veterans will not lack for company. The gamblers, prostitutes, 
saloon-keepers, and loan sharks will meet them at the train, ready 
to welcome the "little fishes in with gently smiling jaws." 

In planning and organizing community facilities, we should 
avoid placing them on a temporary, emergency basis. The work of 
adjusting the veterans to society will necessarily last for several 
years. Machinery established for dealing with veterans should be a 
permanent part of the community structure. The lesson of World 
War I is that organized community effort tends to decline rapidly 
if not actually to disintegrate in the post-war period. 

If, however, there is adequate and continuing interest in the 
matter, the rehabilitation of veterans may furnish an excellent 

2 For an excellent discussion of this problem, with concrete and practical sug- 
gestions, see Morse A. Cartwright, Marching Home, Educational and Social 
Adjustment after the War. Bureau of Publications, Teachers College, Colum- 
bia University, 1944. 


focus of community life. But first it must be brought home to the 
community, and as vividly as possible, that rehabilitation is not 
something that can be done in some wonderful hospital far away 
from the sight of the public, but something that must take place 
in the local community, in every community, before everybody's 
eyes every single day, if the job is to be done. 

The Economic 
Aspects Of 

FINDING a satisfactory job for the veteran is vital to his read- 
justment in society. A job will not, as some believe, solve all 
the veteran's problems, but without a job none of them can 
be solved. Self-support, in American society, is essential to self-re- 
spect; holding a job is one of the central disciplines that give back- 
bone to our lives. The job itself is the source of many of our 
social contacts. It is therefore necessary to find jobs for all veterans 
who are able and willing to work. 

But if we are to find jobs for all the veterans the economic 
machine must be functioning at full capacity; there must be jobs 
enough for all. Here the veteran's fate is interwoven with that of 
the millions of war workers who will have to turn to other tasks 
when they cease producing the instruments of death. There must be 
jobs for the war workers too. If we get jobs for the veterans, and 
none for the war workers, the labor market will be so badly disor- 
ganized that the veterans will not fare well, and the war workers 
and their families will suffer privation. If nevertheless by legisla- 
tion, political pressure, and executive fiat we appropriate all the 
available jobs for the veterans, and leave other potential workers 
idle, all that we shall accomplish will be that the veterans will 
work and pay taxes to support the rest of the population a con- 
summation which one would hardly suppose that the veterans 
would desire. 

An adequate handling of the veteran problem, therefore, re- 
quires full, or nearly full employment, for which, on the basis of 
America's past record, the prospect is not exactly bright. At the 
peak of prosperity, 1929, several millions were unemployed. 
Through the Thirties we were unable to operate the economic 
system without producing surpluses that fat-ally glutted the mar- 



ket; we could not get supply and demand adjusted then, and it will 
certainly be harder to bring them into line with each other now 
that we have enormously expanded our productive capacity, in- 
creased the supply of labor and the productivity of labor, and un- 
balanced our economy far more than ever before. Possibly we shall 
be able to make our economic system work. If not chaos, for the 
veteran as well as for everybody else. 

It is no part of the task of the present work to set forth one more 
plan for the management of the economic system in the post-war 
years. Some of our ablest economists have given this matter their 
attention. Any one of several existent plans would almost certainly 
work better than no plan at all. What is needed is to put some plan 
into effect. The balance of forces in American political life being 
what it is, it is likely to prove difficult to take this last step of 
actually putting into effect any plan that imposes an adequate set 
of controls on industry. 

Ideally the demobilization of soldiers should be geared in to 
post-war economic planning. Soldiers should be released in accord- 
ance with industrial needs and only when jobs are waiting for 
them. This means that the time-honored practice of discharging 
soldiers by military units should be abandoned. The imperatives 
of politics being what they are, it seems hardly probable that the 
demobilization will actually take place in this ideal manner. 

First Step: Nation-wide Job Survey 

While conceding that the economic fate of the veterans is inex- 
tricably intertwined with that of the rest of society, we propose 
to concern ourselves in the present work with the easily practicable 
things that can and should be done for the veterans. Among these 
would be a nation-wide job survey, or inventory, that would deter- 
mine the places in the economic system where the labor of the 
veterans could best be utilized. Such a survey should start with 
the assumption that the reemployment of the veterans furnishes us 
with an opportunity to redistribute our manpower in accordance 
with considerations of both efficiency and welfare. 

Such a survey might well lead to some very important conclu- 
sions concerning the policies to be followed in placing veterans in 
jobs after the war. For example, an intelligent redistribution of 


manpower might involve the decision to place a quarter of a mil- 
lion veterans in the profession of school teaching. The percentage 
of men in teaching has been declining since the Civil War. In 1870 
about 41 per cent of the teachers of the United States were men. 
In 1920 the percentage of men was 14.1; by 1934 it had risen again 
to 19.1. The present war has almost certainly reduced the propor- 
tion of men far below the 1920 figure. There is a very serious short- 
age of trained teachers, a deficiency, according to recent estimates, 
of at least 150,000. There is a rapid turnover in the profession 
even in normal times. It would be easy for the teaching profession 
to absorb 250,000 veterans, and the work of the schools would 
benefit thereby, because men are necessary in the schools. They are 
indispensable for the control and education of boys and they do 
not leave teaching to get married. 

Smaller numbers of veterans could be profitably utilized in in- 
stitutions for juvenile delinquents, which need young and vigorous 
men for their staffs. Police work, which is rapidly maturing into 
a profession, should prove attractive to considerable numbers of 
veterans. The field of social work could furnish employment to 
some thousands, the related field of recreation to thousands more. 
Obviously, a large number of veterans will have to be employed, 
over a period of years, in administering the veteran program itself. 

A survey would doubtless reveal many other wide-open spots in 
the economic order where veterans could profitably be employed. 
State and local surveys would likewise disclose the needs of seg- 
ments of the national community, and would furnish a background 
for intelligent placement. It is worth remembering that large num- 
bers of veterans will very probably gravitate to cities, where the 
market for their services may not be very active. In this connection 
we should note that careful city planning for utility and beauty 
could provide good jobs for millions of veterans a matter receiv- 
ing consideration in the Moses plan for post-war New York City. 
According to a recent survey, about two-thirds of all American 
cities of 10,000 or more are planning large-scale projects for the 
post-war period, total projected expenditures amounting roughly 
to four and a half billion dollars. 1 

l Reported by Emmet Crozier in The New York Herald Tribune, May 7, 1944. 


A List of Economic Aids for Veterans 

Assistance to be extended to veterans should include the follow- 
ing services: 

(1) Demobilization pay and unemployment compensation. Dis- 
missal pay should be adequate to defray immediate expenses and 
to support the veteran while he is seeking a job. If he has trouble 
in finding a job, then he should have unemployment compensation 
for a period of time. 

(2) Guidance in the choice of an occupation. This guidance, if it 
is to be effective for veterans, must involve more than giving a few 
tests and handing out pious advice. Vocational guidance for vet- 
erans will be a difficult job, inseparable from personal counselling 
and from the comprehensive task of helping the veteran to find his 
place in society. There are certain to be many cases of great dis- 
parity between the kind of job the veteran wants and the kind he 
can get; the task of adjusting the veteran to his actual status in 
society will call for a great deal of skill. Conflicts are also certain 
to arise between the veterans and certain entrenched occupational 
groups, notably members of professions and labor unions. One 
part of the guidance program must be to work with such groups 
and to persuade them to open their ranks to a reasonable number 
of veterans. Self-interest would certainly dictate that labor unions, 
for example, should do this. 

(3) Help in preparation for jobs. After the veteran has chosen a vo- 
cation intelligently, he may still need help in fitting himself for it. 
There is every indication that such assistance will be provided. 
One problem involved is that of making sure that instruction given 
to veterans is of high quality. It is also important to make sure that 
veterans who accept such help are serious students willing and 
able to submit themselves to the disciplines of the teaching-learn- 
ing process. 

It would certainly be most desirable for the vocational guidance 
and planning of training programs to be in the hands of persons 
trained, and well trained, for this kind of work. This is the type 
of activity in which a little knowledge is often a dangerous thing, 
but it is also a field in which a great many shysters have operated in 
the past. Such considerations are crucial for the disabled veterans, 
who will require expert and careful attention if their needs are to 


be met. We assume, of course, that the sound rehabilitation pro- 
gram planned for the disabled veterans of World War I will be 
continued after the current war, with, it is to be hoped, better ad- 
ministration this time. 

(4) Help in job-finding. This is a routine activity that should 
be closely correlated with the guidance and training program. 

(5) Business loans. Some veterans will be capable of starting 
their own businesses, if given some help in raising capital. Some 
State governments already provide for such loans, the State of New 
Jersey having recently passed a very generous law. Such loans may 
also properly be extended to cover the purchase of a home or a 
farm. This seems a legitimate field of operation for the State gov- 
ernments, and far more constructive than the usual bonus legisla- 
tion. Such loans, if properly extended, are certain to have a very 
stablizing effect upon veterans. 

(6) Small personal loans. Being an impecunious and not very 
provident group, and a young group that will shortly have heavy 
family responsibilities, the veterans will often be in need of small 
loans. Arrangements should be made to supply these loans, under 
proper safeguards, at the lowest practicable rate of interest. 

(7) In planning and administering these services, we should re- 
member that our obligation to the disabled veteran is greater than 
to any other. But all these services should also be extended, if they 
are needed, to the dependents of deceased or disabled veterans. 

Industry should be prepared to take over the burden of scientific 
job placement and intelligent management of job relationships. 
Interviews and tests should be given to determine the attitudes, ap- 
titudes, and capacities of veterans. Studies should be made are 
already being made by some companies to determine the kinds of 
work that can be done by persons suffering from various kinds and 
degrees of disability. The development of foreman-training in job 
relationships is indicated as a necessary step in dealing with the 
attitudes of veterans. 

Both industrialists and labor unions are in fact thinking along 
these lines. Both groups realize that the veterans will constitute 
their greatest problem for the coming years. The following state- 
ment illustrates the attitude of one of the largest of the labor 
unions, the United Automobile Workers: 

The program of our union for men in the armed forces 


(which is incorporated in our "Post War Plan") calls for the 
following: Guarantee of jobs through a peace time economy of 
full employment; through the enforcement of seniority pro- 
visions in contracts; and through extension of inadequate pro- 
tection of the Selective Service Law to give legal protection 
to all members of the armed forces and merchant marine so 
that they will be guaranteed the right to return to their former 
jobs with accumulated seniority. 

We call for what might be termed a new Homestead Act 
which would be a government financed program for settling 
returned veterans who care to go on farm lands, through in- 
dividual and community projects. 

One of the big problems we feel has to be dealt with is 
provision for adequate bonus which we prefer to call a separa- 
tion allowance, up to $2500 to help discharged veterans get 
back on their feet, rest, investigate new occupational oppor- 
tunities, possibly initiate new ventures in life. To further 
facilitate this, we ask for free education, including training for 
any trade or profession. . . . 

In spite of all the propaganda attempting to show a split 
between the soldiers and the people who are doing the war 
work in the factories, it would surprise you to know how fre- 
quently we hear from members who are looking to their union 
to give them protection in the post-war period. There is no 
question that many of the returning soldiers have some feeling 
of security through the knowledge of being members in good 
standing of well established trade unions who have been 
able to negotiate contracts which provide security for them 
when they return. . . . 2 

Realistic study of the problem of the economic adjustment of 
the veteran brings us squarely up against the problem of personal 
adjustment. It is not enough to get a job for the veteran; unless he 
can be adjusted to society he will not keep the job. The task of 
helping the veteran in meeting his problems of personal relation- 
ships is thus inescapable. We shall deal with it in the following 

2 From a personal communication by William H. Levitt, Director, Interna- 
tional Education Department, U.A.W.-C.I.O., under date of June 5, 1944. 

Helping The Veteran 
In His Personal 

THE task of helping the veteran in his personal relationships 
is one to tax the skill of the well-trained and talented social 
worker. As much as circumstances permit, we must rely upon 
the social workers to do this job. There are, however, many cases 
that amateurs must handle on their own, with no chance to call in 
the doctors of human relationships, and there are aspects of all 
cases which must be handled by the veteran's family, friends, and 
community. Every employer, every wife or mother of a veteran, 
many teachers and preachers should therefore become as expert as 
they can in veteran psychology. In considerable part, it is the aim 
of this book to help such persons to attain an understanding of the 

Are Veterans Strangers in Their Own Homes? 

Veterans are certain to return to an extraordinarily complex set 
of marriage and family relationships. Helping people to straighten 
out such relationships is a job for the trained experts, and one in 
which the amateur will do better not to meddle if he can help it. 
One might perhaps without irreverence suggest a little supplement 
to a famous text which causes it to read: "Love thy neighbor as 
thyself, and let his family relationships severely alone." Perhaps the 
best way to be a really bad neighbor is to bestow such advice gratis. 

Among the cases that the social workers are even now being 
called upon to adjust are many arising from the veteran's relations 
with his children. While he has been away, the children have de- 
veloped rapidly, and the veteran himself has changed. A recently 
reported case illustrates the type of difficulty which may arise. 1 

i Reported by the Catholic Charities, in The New York World-Telegram, 
April 26, 1944. 



The father, discharged after four years of service in the Navy, re- 
turned home to find his nineteen-year-old daughter a grown-up 
young woman. When he left home she was an adolescent of fifteen, 
slaving over home work, engrossed in childish concerns strictly a 
nine o'clock girl. On his return he found her an independent 
woman, a war-worker earning forty dollars a week, with tastes in 
amusement corresponding to her age and income level. The father 
was horrified to find that his little girl sometimes stayed out as late 
as two o'clock in the morning, and he felt that her mother had 
allowed her to go to the dogs. Attempting to exert his authority as 
a father, he met argument and resistance from both wife and 
daughter. In desperation he went to the social worker, who heard 
him out patiently and sympathetically, and tried to convince him 
that he was wrong, explaining that he had missed many stages of his 
daughter's development, that these stages would have passed almost 
imperceptibly if he had remained at home during the last few 
years, and that now he must accept his daughter as a grown-up 
young lady of nineteen. 

No doubt this case had a more or less happy ending, but there 
are many others for which the prognosis is less favorable. Suppose, 
for example, that the veteran returns to his home to find that his 
wife has a child that could not possibly be his. And what of those 
cases in which the veteran has been compelled to continue his allot- 
ments to a wife whom he knows or believes to be unfaithful? Or 
consider the case reported earlier in this book, in which the wife 
has remained technically faithful but is in love with another man. 
Since human nature is what it is, such cases are certain to occur 
with some frequency, but no one has as yet discovered any really 
satisfactory solutions for them. 

Then there are the problems of those war marriages, many of 
them utterly preposterous, which the young people have con- 
tracted because death was whispering in their ears. Celebrated on 
a moment's notice by persons who hardly knew each other and had 
no conception of the meaning of their vows, many of these mar- 
riages were highly immoral in nature, more immoral, in the view 
of many church authorities, than the cohabitation which they were 
supposed to legitimize. When the veterans return, they and their 
"wives" must decide what to do about their marriages. 


Are War Marriages Actually Worth Saving? 

With regard to such marriages, Bossard raises a really fundamen- 
tal question: Are they worth saving? 2 The answer inheres in the 
question. In a great many cases they are not; we may as well recon- 
cile ourselves to that fact, and accept a thumping increase in the 
divorce rate as one of the costs of war. The hastily married cou- 
ples, on the basis of such guidance and help as they can get and 
such wisdom as they can summon for the occasion, must decide 
whether to try to build a life together, with home and children 
and mortgages, or to liquidate their "marriages" in the divorce 
courts. Either solution is certain to be costly. Adjustment to mar- 
ried life under such circumstances is certain to be difficult, and 
divorce is never emotionally inexpensive. If such a union has been 
blessed with a G.I. baby, as so many have, the difficulties of either 
alternative are of course multiplied. 

Many soldiers will also bring back brides from foreign lands. It 
will require the deepest mutual affection to overcome the cultural 
disparity between these men and women whom war has strangely 
yoked together. The women will be living in a foreign land, cut off 
from family and friends, perhaps unable to speak our language. 
Life adjustment will be hard for them at best. The men may find 
that their exotic brides look different to them in America, perhaps 
comparing unfavorably with the native product. A certain propor- 
tion of these marriages will be interracial, in which case their 
problems will be much greater. Of these marriages, too, we must 
ask: Are they worth saving? 

Outside the field of family relationships, other aspects of the 
veteran's behavior may call for the ministrations of the social 
worker. Even now the newspapers contain frequent stories of crimes 
committed by shell-shocked or psychoneurotic veterans, and these 
cases are certain to multiply when demobilization turns loose some 
millions whose personalities have been warped by their experiences. 
It is clear that the veteran who has been diagnosed as psychoneu- 

2 James H. S. Bossard, "Family Problems in Wartime," in Psychiatry: Journal 
of the Biology and Pathology of Inter-Personal Relations, Feb. 1944. In a recent 
article Hart and Bowne estimate that in the peak year following demobilization 
the divorce rate will be roughly 38 divorces for every 100 marriages. (Hornell 
Hart and Henrietta Bowne, "Divorce, Depression, and War," in Social Forces, 
December 1943.) 


rotic is not altogether responsible for his actions, but what of the 
veteran whose condition, though equally severe, does not happen 
to have been diagnosed? Law enforcement officers will have need 
of all their humanity, as well as of the wisdom of the experts, in 
order to deal with such cases. 

A Wide Variety of Other Personal Problems 

Still other kinds of cases will require the help of trained social 
workers. A good many veterans will have tuberculosis or other dis- 
eases requiring continued hospitalization. Welfare agencies must 
assist in discovering them and in making plans for their families. 
In other cases, veterans will be unable or unwilling to work at the 
jobs they can get, and they and their families will come to the 
attention of the relief agencies in that manner, because they are 
indigent. But here also the real problem will be that of recon- 
structing the veteran's attitudes and his system of personal rela- 

Such cases as we have mentioned will call for the services of a 
small army of social workers to devote themselves exclusively to 
the problems of veterans and their families. Amateurs, no matter 
how well intentioned, cannot handle such cases; in fact, they are 
certain to do harm, more harm than good; about as certain as if, 
never having been near a College of Medicine, they went around 
indiscriminately performing appendectomies with butcher knives. 
It requires great skill to minister to a mind diseased, and great 
discipline, too; and unfortunately the number of persons trained in 
such skills and such disciplines is very limited. We should begin 
at once to train a large number of social workers for the express 
purpose of dealing with these problems of the post-war world. 

As a further step, we must attempt to accustom the people in the 
middle economic groups to accept assistance in their own personal 
problems. The rich, in urban areas, are already accustomed to help 
from the psychoanalysts, while the poor receive it from the welfare 
agencies; but people of the middle economic group cannot afford 
psychoanalysis and hesitate to apply to the family societies. The 
solution is a family clinic that charges a modest fee for professional 
advice. Such clinics already exist, and some of them are said to be 
quite successful. 


After we have turned over as many as possible of our cases to the 
professionals, there will still be many aspects of such cases in which 
amateurs will necessarily be involved: hence, widespread public un- 
derstanding of the veteran problem will be highly desirable. Em- 
ployers will do well to make a study of veteran psychology in order 
to prepare themselves for the peculiar attitudes that they are cer- 
tain to encounter in the next few years, and other persons must 
study the problem for other reasons. 

A type of case rather frequently reported to the writer illus- 
trates the need for community understanding of veterans. A man 
recently discharged from the services is employed as a teacher; he 
is effective, and does his job well, but he proves to have an un- 
governable temper, and his language is sometimes unfit for the 
classroom. Obviously it is the task of the principal to work with 
such a man, and of the community to give him a reasonable period 
of time to recover his balance. 

Likewise the wife or mother of a veteran will not be able to 
delegate her function to a social worker, nor will she wish to do 
so. If she can gain an understanding of his condition, she may be 
able to help him along the road to recovery. She must try to learn, 
as well as she can, being a woman and a civilian, what it feels like 
to be a veteran, and she must thoroughly realize that the boy who 
comes back is not the boy who went away. She must give him time 
to find his bearings again, to rest and recover; she must make him 
feel secure again, must tolerate his outbursts, and forbear to lecture 
him for his eccentricities and strange habits. Above all she must 
give him lavish and undemanding affection, for part of his emo- 
tional maladjustment arises from his love-starved condition. But 
this love she gives him must expect no immediate return from the 
man whose sickness is his soul. A great part of the problem is to re- 
establish the free flow of communication and of emotional give 
and take. 

In particular, parents of a veteran must recognize that they no 
longer have the right to supervise his behavior or to censor either 
his habits or his morals. Even in normal times differences of 
opinion on morality are a chief source of conflict between the gen- 
erations; the unmarried boy often seems wild to his parents, but 
when that boy has been a soldier he is apt to seem inconceivably de- 
praved. Perhaps a veteran who has learned to depend upon tobacco 


returns to the home of parents who believe that anyone who smokes 
has taken a long step on the road to hell. The parents must choose 
between the attempt, which is almost certain to be ineffectual, to 
get him to stop smoking, and the opportunity to restore a pleasant 
and mutually satisfying relationship with their son. If they com- 
ment on the smoking, preach to him, pray with him, scold him, he 
will still not stop smoking but he will rebel against his parents and 
probably leave home. The same is true of other vices that parents 
may find even harder to accept. A boy may be only nineteen, but 
if he has been in a war he will never again accept very much moral 
supervision from his parents or anyone else. 

The Disabled at Home: Stoicism or Realism? 

The case of the disabled veteran who must return to wife or 
mother in a crippled condition presents inescapable problems 
whose singular pathos cannot escape the person who gives even 
passing notice to the matter. Certainly every wife or mother of a 
mangled man would like to know what she can do to help him 
through his terrible period of readjustment. The present tendency 
seems to be to advise her to receive him casually, without emotion. 
This doubtless has its good points, but it is certainly dangerous. 

An administrative officer at Halloran General Hospital, who 
himself had suffered and overcome a disability, recently stated a 
set of rules of behavior for the families of disabled veterans. They 

Be casual. An initial expression of sympathy is to be ex- 
pected, but don't dwell on it. 

Get all the false feeling of frustration yours and his out 
of the way immediately. 

Be hardboiled, to his face at least. If the man understands 
the reason for this attitude, he will regard it as a service. 

Be on the alert to discourage any tendency toward an in- 
valid complex. Encourage him to go on and be the useful 
citizen he would have been if he had not been hurt. 

Recognize the fact that whatever differences exist are purely 
physical, that they in no way make him a different person. 8 

3 Reported by Frances Mendelson in The New York Herald Tribune, April 30, 


These rules are in accord with the current tradition. They are 
based upon sound psychological understanding of the harm that 
can be done to a disabled veteran by an over-solicitous family, but 
they have their point of danger in that they overlook the very 
great possibility of carrying this casualness, this bravery, too far. 
Both the disabled veteran and his family must react adequately 
to his handicap. They must face it and not try to pretend that it 
does not exist. They must mourn for his loss and win emancipation 
from their grief at the cost of pain. If a person tries to put such 
things out of his mind, they fester in the unconscious and produce 
neurotic symptoms. It is precisely from such ways of meeting situa- 
tions, such often admirable courage, such militant ignoring, that 
neurosis arises; for the neurotic is only a person who has carried 
some virtue to such an extreme that it has become a vice. 

If one dared to give it, a sounder pattern of advice to the wife 
or mother of the disabled veteran would be: 

If your son comes home disabled or disfigured, cry! That is 
the natural and human thing to do. Let him cry too. Let every- 
body cry. Cry until you get it out of your systems. Then when 
you have had your cry, and he has admitted and expressed his 
own heartache, try to pick up the pieces of your lives and put 
them together again. Admit the disability. Get used to it. 
Then help your son to build up the best possible life with what 
he has. This will rule out all possibility of pampering or en- 
couraging invalidism. But do not start being hard-boiled until 
you have been sympathetic. 

The disabled veteran who is too brave, so that he refuses to 
recognize his disability, runs the risk of building up inner tension 
that will sooner or later put him in a mental hospital. The wife 
or mother who tries to overlook a disability can easily spoil a re- 
lationship by imposing upon herself and the veteran a mental 
strain greater than either can bear. The wife of a disfigured man 
stated her courageous but mistaken policy in these words: "If a 
man is disfigured, don't ever mention that fact to him. Imagine 
how it would hurt himl And above all, concentrate on what is left, 
not what is gone." Her psychology was short-sighted. By excluding 
such a fact, obvious to them both and very much in the minds of 
both, from their conversation, she will end by making the dis- 
figurementthe horrible never-tp-be-mentioned thing that both 


think about all the time far more important to both of them than 
it would otherwise be. The workable solution would be: Accept 
the disfigurement. Talk about it until you have finished. Grieve 
over it until you both feel better. Refer to it when necessary, and 
never let it get to the point where it cannot be referred to. Then 
it will slowly recede from the center of the field of consciousness and 
you may both forget it in a healthy manner, as you forget things 
that you take for granted and toward which you have no emotion. 

It is absolutely necessary that the disabled veteran and his fam- 
ily should mourn in order to free their minds from his handicap. 
As long as the disability or disfigurement is not faced, it will 
dominate consciousness. The disabled veteran must say to himself, 
"I am crippled. I have lost an arm. Nothing can ever bring it back. 
It is a great loss," and then he must give suitable expression to his 
sorrow. Only then, perhaps after months of the psychic pain of 
grief, can he go on to other things with a mind free and void of 
tenseness. There is no recovery without an intermediate state of 
unhappiness. Nothing can cure grief but grief itself. 

For the disabled veteran who mourns but not too long as for the 
widow who weeps but not forever the prognosis is good. He will 
recover, to accept his disability and to lead a calm and useful life. 
But if he does not mourn, if he does not get his sorrow out of his 
system by expressing it, if he does not learn to face the changed 
reality, his emotional life will be lastingly dominated by his dis- 
ability. This is the risk we run by counselling casualness and 
bravery. Courage the disabled veteran must have in any case, and 
his wife or mother must have courage also, but perhaps, for the 
sake of their mental hygiene, they should not show it until they 
have purged themselves with weeping. 

Helping the Veteran 
By Sending Him 
Back to School 

PRESENT-DAY soldiers t are, as we have seen, lukewarm about 
going back to school, and yet education has certain advan- 
tages over every other method of rehabilitation. These ad- 
vantages are so great that it seems the part of wisdom to attempt to 
overcome the veterans' indifference to education and to rely upon 
the schools as a principal agency for restoring them to their place 
in society. 

Better than any other kind of experience, schooling can restore 
the veteran to the communicative system of society. That is what 
education is: communication. And even if it works poorly it com- 
municates more than a man is likely to acquire by any other 
method, more, that is, of the kind of thing that we should like to 
have our veterans learn. If it is at all effective, education opens up 
new worlds of thought and involves the student in a wider system 
of communication than he has ever before experienced. 

An educational environment will be good for veterans because it 
will give them a chance to recover their emotional balance. The 
school environment can be adapted to the veteran's needs, allow- 
ing him to take the kind of courses he requires in the combination 
he desires, permitting him a light or a heavy schedule, encouraging 
him to express and to develop his own unique individuality. A 
work environment can never be so adapted; a man in industry must 
submit to the discipline of the job, accepting it or rebelling against 
it. The pressures, furthermore, of an educational environment are 
not harsh, and the penalties for failure not crushing. School-teach- 
ers, for all their faults, understand that their job is to foster the 
growth of personality, while employers, rightly enough, usually re- 
fuse to accept any such responsibility. A school, therefore, with its 
infinite adaptability, is a nearly ideal place for a veteran who is 
travelling the steep road back to civilian society. 



If a veteran suffers a disadvantage in competition because of his 
military service, a properly planned educational program will en- 
able him to overcome that handicap. Thus it may come about that 
some veterans will be able to take up occupations from which the 
expense of a long training period would have excluded them in 
normal times. 

If after the war it is necessary to provide employment for some 
millions by make-work devices, an educational program would be 
an almost ideal outlet for surplus labor non-competitive, as re- 
gards its relation to private industry, requiring little investment of 
capital, capable of being curtailed without loss when the economy 
may require it, and the best way of conserving for a future time 
the productivity of temporarily unusable labor. Schooling, further- 
more, would return the laborers to the economic world in small 
assimilable driblets, and would thus not glut the market. 

The Great Potentialities of Veteran Education 

Better than any other rehabilitation program, education can 
work on the veteran's attitudes, helping him slowly to overcome 
the bitterness and resentment that may otherwise interfere with 
his adjustment throughout life. It often comes about that the 
teacher's dry didacticism, his objectivity and disinterestedness, his 
repetitiousness, are more persuasive than any eloquence. The 
teacher traditionally presents facts and leaves the individual free 
to make up his own mind, but by so doing he often commands the 
minds of others more effectively than can the demagogue. Further- 
more, the better the student's mind, the more it is subject to the 
type of influence that the teacher exerts. 

Lastly, education and retraining are the only possible solution for 
many disabled veterans. If a man has received an injury that inca- 
pacitates him for one occupation, train him for another in which 
this disability will not be a handicap. Such a solution is in every 
way superior to the previous device of pensioning him off and thus 
depriving him of the psychic rewards of work, productivity, and a 

There are certain obstacles in the way of using education as 
a rehabilitative device for veterans. Veterans are, as we have seen, 
lukewarm in their attitude toward education. This is a poser. But 


we should note that the survey previously quoted deals with the 
attitudes of soldiers still in the service and that there is at least an 
even chance that these men will change their opinions when they 
become veterans. Another obstacle is that the schools and colleges 
have suffered serious deterioration as a result of the damage done 
by war. College faculties have been raided by many agencies, while 
the supply of recruits has been cut off. This situation can probably 
be best met by training veterans who have already had some ad- 
vanced work to become teachers of other veterans. 

It seems reasonable to hope that in spite of their present luke- 
warm attitude, large numbers of veterans can in fact be reached 
through education. Benjamin Fine, education editor of the New 
York Times, recently reported on his survey of the opinions and 
attitudes of more than 1,000 veterans of the present war who had 
already returned to college. He found that many were working 
with great earnestness on their studies, but he stated that the 
schools should teach "what the veterans want, not what the schools 
or the Government think they should be taught." l We should add 
that even if we could reach no more than five per cent of the vet- 
erans through education this would be very much worth doing, 
because a great proportion of the leaders of the veteran group 
would be certain to be included in the educable five per cent. 

As to the method of supplying educational opportunities to vet- 
erans, school authorities seem agreed that the educational program 
for veterans should not operate by means of contracts that would 
put education under the control of the Federal government. A great 
number of scholarships to be awarded to veterans best qualified and 
most in need would serve the purpose much better; such scholar- 
ships should, of course, cover both tuition and living expenses. 
Loans have been advocated for this purpose, but they entail the 
great disadvantage of forcing young men to begin their occupa- 
tional life heavily in debt. The history of loans to veterans indi- 
cates that many such loans would never be repaid, and that they 
would constitute a political football for a generation. 

iThe New York Times, May 7, 1944. In a later and more extensive report, 
Fine summarized his findings as follows: "Former service men who have re- 
turned to the college and university campus are more serious-minded than they 
were as civilian students, are more interested in technical and vocational 
courses leading to immediate jobs than they are in the humanities, do not want 
to be segregated into special schools or departments, and are finding it rather 
difficult to readjust their lives from the excitement of the battlefront to the 
peace and quiet of the classroom." (The New York Times, June 4, 1944.) 


It would be most unwise to establish separate institutions for the 
education of veterans. It would be difficult to staff such institu- 
tions, or to supervise them in order to make sure that they do work 
of standard quality. It would open the door to political corrup- 
tion. Worst of all, it would defeat the main purpose of veteran 
education, which is to restore the veteran to communication with 
the rest of society. The best practice would be to make full use of 
the educational assets and traditions of existing institutions. We 
may feel sure that the faculties and administrators of these insti- 
tutions will display great adaptability in dealing with the needs of 

A few hints as to methods to be used in educating the veteran 
may not be amiss. The approach should be that of adult education. 
Regardless of his age or educational level, the veteran is always an 
adult in certain respects. 2 He must participate more than the 
school-child in planning and carrying through his education, and 
he must, be free from personal supervision. Education, furthermore, 
must follow his tastes and interests. 

Special Methods for Teaching Student- Veterans 

It would certainly be a good idea to start the veteran's education 
with the veteran and his own attitudes. Let him study himself, then 
learn to see himself in the perspective of the veteran problem in 
general. Encourage him to express his grievances, go into details, 
elaborate on them; then formulate reasonable plans for the rest of 
his life, and plan in such a way that his life will not be marred 
by his own lasting bitterness. Encourage the veteran to work out 
methods for dealing with the veteran problem in society. Encour- 
age him to discuss and argue until he recaptures the mastery of 
words. This sort of discussion could be conducted on any level 

2 Fine recounts the following incidents: "Upon being interviewed by the 
dean, one boy said, 'I am too old to sit in the classroom; I feel out of place.' 
He had just returned from grueling campaigns at Tarawa and Guadalcanal. 
'How old are you?' he was asked. 'I'll be twenty-one next December,' came the 
reply. A similar instance took place at Syracuse University. A veteran came to 
his adviser and said, 'One thing that disturbs me is that I am in with a lot of 
boys who are so much younger that I am.' An investigation showed that of the 
thirteen boys in the house, four were 19 the same age as the returned veteran 
who had seen action in the South Pacific-three were under 19 and six were 
older than he. But he felt more mature than his elders. Emotionally he 
was more than 19." The New York Times, June 4, 1944. 


of education or intelligence, and should be a part of the socializa- 
tion of every veteran. 

This method seems so promising that it ought also to be employed 
among veterans who do not return to school. Its basic psychology is 
simple but effective; it consists of inducing the veteran to gain 
perspective on his own problems by looking at them in a gener- 
alized way and viewing them from the standpoint of society. As 
soon as the veteran has learned to see the veteran problem as a 
problem, and his own behavior and attitudes as a part of that 
problem, he has taken an important step in assimilating himself 
to and restoring communication with the rest of society. This 
method of working on the veteran's attitudes through discussion 
could be employed by any group or community which can supply 
competent leadership for such discussion groups. 

While the veteran's education must allow great freedom, it must 
also involve discipline. Though it may seem strange that a man 
should still be in need of learning discipline after a period of 
military service, it is nevertheless true. The discipline of military 
life, unfortunately but necessarily, is largely external, in contrast 
to the self-direction and self-control which civilian life demands. 
Discipline of the veteran must aim at restoring his dominion over 
himself. In psychoanalytic language, it must rebuild the Super-Ego. 

It goes without saying that in educating veterans we must make 
use of the tests and the apparatus of guidance which the last few 
years have brought forth in such profusion. The education of vet- 
erans is sure to be something of a mass job, so that any possible 
short-cuts of technique for fitting square pegs into square holes 
should receive full use. But such mass techniques should be sup- 
plemented by case methods as well. The group of veterans, crippled 
by subjection to an impersonal machine, can be brought back into 
society only by means of human contacts. 

Schools that assume the responsibility of educating veterans will 
do well to increase their facilities for hygienic and psychiatric guid- 
ance. If facilities permit, every veteran returning to school or 
college should receive a physical examination and a psychiatric 
interview at the time of enrollment. Since the need for guidance 
will be great, it would also be wise to instruct the teachers of the 
veterans, in veteran psychology and psychiatry. 

The most urgent educational task is the retraining of disabled 


veterans. The policy of reeducating the disabled veteran in some 
trade or profession in which the disability will not be a handicap 
was adopted during World War I. Though the idea was sound, 
the administration of the program was bad. We are now in a posi- 
tion to profit from the mistakes and experiments of the past. We 
should employ the most advanced testing procedures in order to 
guide veterans into occupations for which they are fitted by skills 
and attitudes. We should select schools for trainees with great care, 
and make sure that they give competent instruction. We should 
follow up the trainees, strive to keep them at their studies by the 
various persuasions and inducements known to teachers and to 
deans of men. The program should be integrated with the needs 
of industry, rules of labor unions, and state laws in order to make 
sure that men will in fact be able to practice their trades after they 
have completed their training. In all this work we should attempt 
to improve the veteran's attitudes as well as to give him skills. We 
should teach him to live as well as to make a living. 

As to the curriculum, it seems to be generally agreed that re- 
turning veterans will wish to stress training in the practical arts; 
at least that is their present temper. No doubt the veterans are 
right in this preference, but we should attempt, in many cases, to 
dissuade them from making their training too narrowly and imme- 
diately practical. If a boy is college material, he should go to col- 
lege for four years and not to a trade school for six months if we 
can persuade him to do so, and if the girl he wants to marry is 
not too clamorous in her demands. 

In planning the education of the veteran, we should not forget 
that the so-called humanities, the humanistic studies, literature 
and the arts (in which should certainly be included the social 
sciences which are a modern form of the humanities), have a special 
importance for him, whether he knows it or not. More than other 
subjects, these "impractical" studies, which interpret man's life and 
acquaint the student with the thoughts and written dreams of 
men, can help the veteran to overcome the effects of his long-time 
isolation from society. Better than any other studies, the human- 
ities can work upon the veteran's unwholesome attitudes and help 
him to become a citizen in a world of peace once more. 

What We Can Do 
For the Veteran Now: 
A Summary 

WE have surveyed the veteran problem and assessed the 
possibilities of dealing with it by various methods. It is 
now time to summarize some of our results and set down 
such concrete suggestions as seem to be justified by our study. It 
should be emphasized that these are highly tentative suggestions. 
We make no claim that these ideas are original or that they will 
suffice to dispose of the problem once and for all. We record them 
in the hope that they may prove helpful in the process of learning 
how to take care of our veterans. 

Essentials of a Veterans' Program 

It is clear that, if we are to handle the problem of the returning 
veteran, we must make a radical change in our thinking. We must 
stop thinking about "veterans' benefits," and begin thinking about 
a veterans' program. The difference is essential. 

A veterans' program is a set of coordinated activities designed 
to restore the veteran to his place in society. Obviously, such a pro- 
gram is what we need. 

Veterans' benefits, on the other hand, are gratuities or conces- 
sions to the veteran. They are based upon the idea that the veteran 
has been unjustly treated and the nation owes him something. 
They are granted, in a haphazard, senseless way, because veterans 
are useless and needy and men's hearts are warm, or merely be- 
cause veterans are politically powerful. It would be better for the 
world, and for the veteran, if the concept of veterans' benefits had 
never been invented. 

A veterans' program, to be worthy of the name, would be prompt 
and timely, and it would give adequate aid, once and for all; un- 



fortunately, veterans' benefits do none of these things. A program 
aims at rehabilitation and the complete restoration of the veteran 
to normal life. When its work is accomplished, a veterans' program 
will come to an end; but veterans' benefits, as we know, have a way 
of going on forever. Furthermore, if there were an adequate vet- 
erans' program, there would be no need of, and no excuse for, 
veterans' benefits. 

When we evaluate the hodge-podge of veterans' benefits that we 
have, in the light of the veterans' program that we ought to have, 
we see that many of these benefits are useless or worse than useless. 
Pensions, with a few exceptions, are valueless as a solution of the 
veteran problem, and sometimes, because of their pauperizing 
effect, they are a positive hindrance. Bonuses and gratuities, except 
for dismissal pay, are equally useless. Tax exemptions are likewise 
of little value. Mere concessions or privileges do not help the vet- 
eran very much. 

If, then, we attempt to frame a veterans' program that will be 
adequate to restore the veteran to society, how shall we go about it? 
Various agencies must contribute, each in its own way: 

The Federal government must, of course, play a crucial role. It 
must, in the first place, so manage the national economy, with the 
cooperation of business leaders, as to assure full employment, a 
matter outside the scope of this book but essential in solving the 
veteran problem. It must give every veteran adequate dismissal 
pay, and assistance in finding a job, as well as support during the 
period of job-seeking and economic readjustment. Further, it must 
supply guidance during this period of crucial decisions. The Fed- 
eral government must assume financial responsibility for the dis- 
covery, care, and rehabilitation of the disabled, as well as the sup- 
port and possibly the retraining of their dependents. It must also 
develop methods and procedures for dealing with some hundreds 
of thousands of psychological cripples. 

The Federal government must supply financial backing for an 
extensive program of reeducation, so designed as to reach as large 
a number of veterans as possible, but must not set up separate 
educational institutions for veterans or seek to dominate existing 
institutions. Justice dictates that veterans who do not obtain edu- 
cation or trade training at government expense should receive 
something roughly equivalent in some not easily expendable form, 


such as a paid-up life insurance policy with a limited borrowing 
capacity. The Federal government should also assist veterans 
through loans to purchase homes or farms, and to establish busi- 
nesses or professional practices. The program of governmental life 
insurance should be continued, as it is certain to be, because of its 
encouragement to thrift. Veterans' preference in civil service is not 
only politically inevitable, but also, within limits, a useful device 
for veteran rehabilitation. 

The field of operation of State governments in a veterans' pro- 
gram is much more limited. They should abstain from bonuses and 
from permanent tax exemptions, on the theory that the veteran 
will receive ample justice without such concessions. They should 
conduct a search for cases of disability among demobilized veterans, 
and give aid in pressing claims. They should cooperate in the task 
of veteran education through the State-supported educational insti- 
tutions, but should resist the temptation to establish separate insti- 
tutions for veterans. They should supervise the organization of 
local communities for returning veterans, and arrange for State- 
wide organization of veteran social work. The field of small loans 
to veterans might also be a proper sphere of operation for State 

As previously stated, local communities must bear much of the 
responsibility for veteran rehabilitation, depending upon Federal 
financial support where necessary. Each community should organ- 
ize now to help veterans find jobs, plan educational careers, choose 
vocations, press claims for disabilities, and provide small loan serv- 
ices. The local community must also adapt its educational agencies 
to the needs of veterans. It should also, where possible, provide 
help and guidance for the many veterans' organizations certain to 
spring up after the war. 

Case-working agencies must prepare to assume heavy burdens in 
helping veterans in their personal relationships, and to develop 
new skills for dealing with a very difficult set of clients. Social work- 
ers must also play a prominent part in the task of post-war com- 
munity organization, to help veterans and to deal with the gen- 
erally chaotic conditions of the post-war world. 

Veterans' organizations should prepare to receive dynamic new 
elements into their membership and to meet the competition of 
new and lively organizations among the veterans of World War II. 


A principal contribution of veterans' organizations in the next few 
years will be to see that aid given to veterans is timely, adequate, 
and properly administered. The time when the veteran needs help 
is in the years immediately following a war, and this is the time 
when he is usually neglected. It is up to the veterans' organiza- 
tions to supply the necessary pressure to assure that this does not 

It is quite clear that we do not as yet know how to do all the 
things which are here set down as desirable. In many important 
matters, we must learn by experience or depend upon further study 
and research to show us the way. How this research might best be 
planned, set in motion, and coordinated is discussed in the follow- 
ing chapter, the epilogue. 

The Cost of Saving the Men Who Fought for Us 

The costs of our post-war program for veterans are certain to be 
great. A recent business letter estimates the monetary costs of vet- 
erans' care in the post-war years at from three to five billion dollars 
a year, adding that a "Veterans' Deal" is coming to replace the 
New Deal in those years. Included in this estimate are such items 
as hospital care ($217,000,000), pensions, adjusted compensation, 
(at a minimum of one billion and a maximum of three and a half 
billion dollars), unemployment compensation, and education 
($600,000,000). Expenditures of state and municipal governments, 
which are certain to be heavy, are not included in this estimate. 

Such estimates are useful only in giving us a conception of the 
size of our problem. They are not based upon an attempt to plan 
a really adequate veterans' program, but merely upon existing or 
proposed legislation, which is at best a structure of contradictions. 
An adequate rehabilitation program might cost more in the early 
years than proposed measures on behalf of veterans, but in the end 
rehabilitation would certainly save money as well as lives. 

Rehabilitation is preferable to legislative patchwork in our treat- 
ment of veterans, but we do not know how much it will cost. For 
various reasons, it is impossible to estimate with any accuracy the 
money costs of an adequate program for veterans. We shall not 
know how large our problem of disability is until some years after 
the end of the fighting; service-connected psychoneurotic break- 


downs will continue to occur for many years after the end of the 
war. Nor do we as yet know enough about the art of rehabilitation 
to be able to say just what specific benefits should be extended to 
veterans or what the veterans themselves will elect to take. Like 
doctors who do not too well understand some pathological con- 
dition of the human body, we must try out different remedies and 
treatments and use the medicines to which the patients seem to 
respond; the most useful medicines, to continue the figure, may 
be cheap, or they may be expensive, but we must not count the 

The cost of the veterans' program will also depend in part upon 
general economic conditions. If the removal of wartime controls 
produces a runaway inflation, that will affect the problem. If we 
are unable to solve satisfactorily the problem of post-war employ- 
ment for veterans and war workers, that will make the readjust- 
ment of the veterans immensely more difficult and will call for in- 
creased expenditures. 

In any case, while we should avoid emotionalism and excess in 
our provisions for veterans, we should not permit the expense of 
a program to be the decisive consideration. A father whose child is 
mortally ill should not bargain with the doctor or the hospital 
concerning the price of the treatments which may save the child's 
life. Our obligation to the veteran is equally overwhelming and in 
one way even stronger because we have sent these young men out 
to fight as an incident of national policy; we have elected to sacri- 
fice this group in the supposed interest of the remainder of the 
nation. Every war produces a ruined generation. If we choose to 
go to war we must be willing to take the responsibility of com- 
pensating its victims. The obligation is clear, unavoidable, and al- 
most limitless. Whatever the price of rehabilitating our veterans, 
we must be prepared to pay it. 

Along this line, it is well to reflect that if the war should con- 
tinue until 1950, we should defray the costs of that extended con- 
flict without any question. If war costs $100,000,000,000 a year, we 
do not try to avoid payment of that astronomical sum. But if we 
are asked to spend the price of one year of war in restoring our 
veterans to their place in society, many persons would consider this 
claim exorbitant. And yet it would be a wonderful bargain for us 
as a nation if we could really rehabilitate the veterans of the present 


war, and solve the veteran problem, at a cost not exceeding the 
cost of a single year of war. 

However clear our obligation to the veterans is in morality 
and ethics, we may suppose that there will be great opposition to 
paying the bill. Nations like to have wars. They do not like to pay 
for them. They especially dislike paying the men who have done 
the fighting, or taking adequate care of them, once the war has been 
won. From the time of the Carthaginians down to the present, his- 
tory is full of swindled and neglected soldiers. The United States 
has been lavish in its expenditures on account of veterans, but it 
has never been generous or even fair to its veterans. It has never 
dealt justly with the veterans of a major war in the years imme- 
diately following a war, and once those years have passed little that 
is constructive can be done with any group of veterans. Apparently 
our national psychology reacts sharply to the emotional spree of a 
war: we feel guilty and ashamed and disillusioned, we feel so 
guilty toward the veterans that we do not permit ourselves to think 
about them. 

After the war, people will no doubt say that an adequate veteran 
program would bankrupt the country. They will be wrong. A pro- 
gram which will restore the veterans to productivity will be cheap 
at almost any price. To illustrate this point, let us take some en- 
tirely hypothetical figures. Suppose that the present war leaves us 
3,000,000 disabled and handicapped veterans. We could pension 
them off at a hundred dollars a month, and that would cost 
$3,600,000,000 a year. At the end of ten years, we should have spent 
thirty-six billions of dollars, and the men would still be disabled. 
Let us suppose, however, that we rehabilitate these men at the fan- 
tastically high cost of $10,000 a man. That would mean an expendi- 
ture of thirty billion dollars, but in a very few years the veterans 
would have contributed a vastly greater sum to the national in- 
come. Rehabilitation would still be a good investment if it cost 
$25,000 a man. 

The same arguments hold for other than disabled veterans. 
Millions of men, without having any actual disability, will be less 
useful than they might have been if they had never gone to war. 
Their trouble, in many cases, is in their attitudes that unfit them 
for civilian society. If we can devise a program that will enable 
the veterans to overcome these attitudes, the veterans themselves 


will repay the costs of the program many times over in the years to 

We have deliberately put the case in cold-blooded, economic 
terms. If we think in terms of human life rather than in terms of 
dollars, the case is immensely stronger. Whatever we may do to 
prevent it, the present war will produce many millions of blasted 
lives has already done so, in fact. Anything which we can do to 
reduce this damage will prove to be a good social investment. 

The cost of solving the veteran problem will undoubtedly be 
high. The cost of not solving it will be immensely higher. If we 
neglect our veterans, we shall pay for our heartlessness in a thou- 
sand different ways. Not one of us will be able to escape the impact 
on our own personal lives of the mass misery of millions of malad- 
justed veterans. Like disease, this misery will permeate the air we 
breathe and it will reach us in mysterious ways; no one will escape 
it. If their needs are unsatisfied, the veterans of this war may be- 
come an extremely dangerous political group. If we do not rehabil- 
itate our veterans, we shall certainly have to pay immense sums 
for pensions, bonuses, and other useless handouts from which no 
one will derive any benefit. If, in the years immediately after the 
war, we do not give the veterans what they need and have a right 
to have, they will in later years force us to pay a heavy price for 
our thrift. 

Epilogue: Rehabilitation 
A New Social 
Art to be Learned 

IN order to deal with the veteran problem, we must create a new 
art, the art of rehabilitation. This art does not yet exist. 
For the present, we must rely to some extent on trial and 
error, but that does not mean that we are as helpless as the rat in 
the maze or the cat in the box. We are not condemned to unguided 
empiricism. We know enough about the problem to make intelli- 
gent trials; we know in what general direction the solution lies. 
And we ought to be able to discover our errors quickly and to 
analyze them in such a way as to learn the proper lessons from 

Contributions to the art of rehabilitation can and should come 
from many fields. Probably social workers have more to contribute 
than anyone else. They have perfected skills and disciplines for 
handling people. They have their wonderfully flexible arts of case 
work. They are beginning to learn how to handle groups. They 
have had some years of experience with veterans' relief, and know a 
great deal about veterans. 

Important contributions may also be expected from other fields. 
Psychiatrists and psychoanalysts can supply many important clues 
to the understanding of the veteran. Psychologists can organize and 
summarize the results of tests and experiments in order to give us 
a picture of the group with which we have to deal. Historians, 
economists, political scientists, and sociologists will have something 
to say about the problem. Educational specialists have already pro- 
duced workable plans for the reeducation of the veteran; we may 
depend upon the educators to be quick to learn and ready to sub- 
ject their results to study and evaluation. Industry is also learning 
to deal with veterans, and the larger companies are organizing 
their learning in communicable form. Veterans' organizations have 



already accumulated a vast body of knowledge concerning veterans 
and their officers have developed certain skills to a high degree. 

We already know something about the veteran problem, but it 
is not enough that this knowledge should exist; it must also be put 
together, it must be disseminated widely, and it must be applied. 
It is not enough for the psychiatrist to know that the shell-shocked 
veteran has a tendency toward explosive aggression; everybody 
must know it in order to understand how to live with and treat 
such a man. Other sorts of facts are known to specialists but not to 
any large proportion of even the highly literate public. The his- 
torian knows the history of pensions and of pension drives, per- 
haps knows also that deserving veterans are often neglected after 
a war. The social worker knows that it is wise and humane to make 
a search for cases of disability, and the story of the veterans' atti- 
tude of disillusion as recorded in the literature is known to many 
persons. As long as these facts are kept in solitary confinement in 
the minds of a few learned men, they can be of little use. 

But put such facts as these together with a thousand others, 
puzzle out their significance, then shout this knowledge from the 
house-tops, and we shall begin to solve the veteran problem. Schol- 
arship is not enough. We must synthesize and popularize if our 
knowledge is to be of any use. This book is intended to be a con- 
tribution, meager though it is, to this process of synthesis and 

To put the matter in another way, we must understand the vet- 
eran before we can rehabilitate him. To understand the veteran, 
we must learn all that we can about him his attitudes and habits, 
his behavior in past times but we must couple this externalistic 
knowledge with that other sort of knowledge which can only come 
from inner sources, from the imagination. For the simplest and 
oldest method of psychology is still the best: It is to imagine what 
it would be like to be somebody else. We must understand the 
veteran by imagining what it would be like to be in his skin, bor- 
row his eyes to see with, his heart to feel, his mind to recall the 
present and to think about the future. The tools with which to 
work in rehabilitating the veteran are in our selves, and the most 
useful of them is the sympathetic imagination. 

When we have drawn on all available sources for what they can 
tell us about rehabilitation, when we have learned all that we can 


and imagined more, we shall still have to experiment, we shall still 
be forced to feel our way by trial and error. The important thing 
in this experimentation is to keep our objective clearly in mind 
and to evaluate every experiment strictly in terms of progress to- 
ward that end. The objective is to return the veteran "undamaged" 
to society. We must never lose sight of that goal or confuse it with 
any other good thing; nor must we ever accept the part of it for the 
whole. We must be flexible in methods, inflexible in goals. 

Perhaps the most important step is to recognize at once that the 
veteran problem is one of the most important if not the most 
critical of our time. All devices of communication should be called 
upon to give publicity to the problem. Newspapers should devote 
columns to it. Radio speeches and the sermons of preachers should 
spread knowledge concerning it. There should be many college 
courses on the subject of veterans, some intended to give general 
understanding of the problem, others for the training of practi- 
tioners, yet others for the veterans themselves. 

Particularly to be desired would be some great center of veteran 
research in which cooperative studies of the veteran problem could 
be carried on and the results of other researches synthesized and co- 
ordinated. In such a center doctors and psychiatrists could invent 
new methods to heal the minds and bodies of veterans, social work- 
ers could work out the best practices for veterans' relief and try to 
put the psychoneurotic veteran back on his feet, historians could 
inquire into the fate of veterans in the past, and economists, psy- 
chologists, sociologists, criminologists, and experts in government 
could carry on their appropriate researches. Such a center should 
be equipped with laboratories, extensive libraries, and all the ap- 
paratus of research. It should also have funds to subsidize researches 
to be carried on elsewhere; it should be responsible for encourag- 
ing veteran research in all fields and for recording its results. It 
should have a planning bureau to translate its results into action, 
a division of propaganda to disseminate its findings to the public. 

For many years to come we shall spend several billion dollars 
annually on veterans. If the bill for the care of veterans is, say, five 
billion a year, then one ten-thousandth of that sum would suffice 
for the most elaborate kind of veteran research; one one-hundred- 
thousandth for the financing of more research than has ever been 
devoted to the problem in the past. Such research would pay for 


itself, perhaps literally, a million times over. The discovery of even 
a moderately effective method for dealing with the social, not 
sheerly medical, rehabilitation of the psychoneurotic veteran alone 
would be worth billions, many, many billions over the next three 
decades. If we had spent a million dollars on research in the years 
following World War I, or even, perhaps a hundred thousand, it 
would be worth billions today in money, and its value in human 
lives would be incalculable. But we spent almost nothing. Billions 
for veterans' care, but not one cent to find out how to spend the 
billions intelligently! 

It would be possible to solve the veteran problem, but before 
it is solved, many men must study it over a period of years, and 
others must evaluate their results. We must build up a body of 
social knowledge centering around this great problem, a science 
of "Veteranology," analogous to criminology, which draws upon all 
fields of knowledge for help in solving its peculiar problems. This 
science of "Veteranology" must underlie the art of rehabilitation, 
at the same time contributing to it and emerging from it. Both the 
science and the art are for the future to discover. 




Abbott, Edith, 125 

Abbreviations in army, 29 

Abraham Lincoln and pagan cult of 

courage, 61 

Abraham Lincoln Brigade, 50, 53 
Accommodation in peacetime society, 


Adams, John, 196 
Adams, Samuel, 196 
Adjusted Compensation Act, 221; 

loans, 241 

Age groups: veterans' organization 

represents one, 2, 15; of soldiers of 

World War II, 254 

Aggressions, explosive and traumatic 

neurosis, 167. See Sadistic aggressive 

Almshouse, veterans may not be sent 

to, 228 
Alienation of soldiers and civilians, 

30, 89 

American Legion, the, 203 ff.: founded, 
203; purposes, 204; membership, 
204; class level, 204 leadership, 205, 
local posts, 206; program, 206; serv- 
ices to disabled veterans, 206; con- 
ventions, 207; and veterans' benefits, 
207; community services, 208; child- 
welfare program, 208; education, 
209; American Education Week, 209; 
academic freedom, 210; prepared- 
ness program, 211, political meth- 
ods, 212 

Anderson, Maxwell, qu. 97 ff. 
Anti-Semitism in wartime, 86 
Apathy of veterans, 174. See Emotions 
Archaisms, in army, 29 
Areson, C. W., qu. 208 
Argument: politics as, 184; veteran 

unfitted for, 184 

Army: as social machine, 19 ff.; as real 
world to soldier, 27 ff.; controls sol- 
dier by conditioning and organiza- 
tion, 45 

Arrears Act, 219 

Assimilation: group-wise, 176 ff.; of 
immigrants and veterans, 180 ff.; 
through participation, 262 
Attitudes: soldier's, basis of, 63 ff.; of 

veterans, variations in, 190 
Authority, veteran's ambivalent atti- 
tude toward, 120, 153 

Aviators: mental conflicts of, 54; be- 
havior on leave, 58 ff. 

Barbusse, Henri, 173 

Bathsheba, 3 ff. 

Beggars, veterans as, 121 ff. 

Bell, Bernard Iddings, 68 ff. 

Bell, Howard M., 249 

Benefits, veterans', 226 ff., 231 ff. See 


Bergstresser, John L., 158 
Birthrate, behavior of, in war, 131 ff. 
Bitterness, veterans', 92 ff., 178 ff.: 
justification of, 105 ff.; persistence 
of, 111; residue of, 110; of disabled 
veteran, 159 ff.; as a political force, 
186 ff. 

Bond, Elsie, qu. 228 
Bonnell, John S., qu. 70 
Bonus Army. See Bonus Expeditionary 

Bonus Expeditionary Force, 112, 124, 

221, 240 ff. 

Boom- towns, produced by war, 85 
Boredom, 23 ff.: analyzed, 43 ff.; as a 
form of rebellion and reaction to 
frustration, 73 ff.; in army, 71 ff.; 
introverted and extraverted, 74; 
modes of escape from, 75; universal 
in war, 72 

Bossard, J. H. S., 256, 286; qu. 140 
Boudinot, President, 8 
Bounty-land warrants, number, 218 
Bowne, Henrietta, 286n 
Brittain, Vera, 18n, 171, 173; qu. 107, 

153, 178 

Brockway, A. F., 127 
Buck, Paul, 201 
Buehler, Alfred G., qu. 223 
Burgess, E. W., 120 

Camp-followers, respectable, 132 
Canada: hospitals, 236; rehabilitation 

program, 240 
Carlson, Col. Evans, 40 
Carlson's Raiders, 40 
Carlyle, Thomas, qu. 60 
Carthaginian veterans, 6 
Caste system, of army, 147 
Cause: lost cause and solidarity, 42; 




attitude of "Lost Generation" to- 
ward causes, 172 

Causes and solidarity, 36 

C.C.C. camps, veterans in, 230 

Chambers, Frank P., lln, 88 

Chaplain, Catholic, qu. 69 

Charms, belief in, 67 

Chewing gum, rdle of, in army, 75 

Children, as soldiers' pets, 66 

Cincinnati, Order of, 196 

Civilians: attitudes of soldiers toward, 
31, 99, 179; weary of war before sol- 
diers do, 88 

Civil liberties, curtailment of, during 
war, 114 

Civilianism, as antithesis of militar- 
ism, 106 

Civilian life, soldier unfitted for, 24, 
43, 49, 55, 70, 127 ff., 183 ff. 

Civil War (American): reabsorption of 
veterans after, 125 ff.', veterans as 
criminals, 125 ff.; altered position 
of women during, 140; doctors and 
hospitals in, 160; pensions, 219 

Civil War (English), veterans of, 121 

Civil War (Spanish), 50; case of soldier 
returning from, 176. See Abraham 
Lincoln Brigade. 

Class system, the: in civilian society, 
147; of army, 147 ff.', place of vet- 
eran in, 149; changed by war, 86 

Classes, embittered struggle of, in post- 
war world, 114 

Clemenceau, Georges, qu. 185 

Cleveland, Grover, 199, 219 

Coca-cola, role of, in army, 75 

Cohen-Portheim, Paul, qu. 76 

Collapse of World War I armies after 
peace, 78 

College, veterans in, 154 

Colonial pensions, 216 

Communication, in civilian life and 
in army, 26 ff. 

Communities, disorganized by war, 85 

Community organization: defined, 270; 
techniques of, 271; amateurs and 
professionals in, 271; principles of, 
272; veterans in, 179; r61e in re- 
habilitation, 270 ff.; program for, 273 

Commutation certificates, 217 

Competition: in army, 147 ff.', in ci- 
vilian life, veteran at a disadvan- 
tage in, 109 

Competitive society and war, 105 ff. 

Compromise: implicit in veterans' or- 
ganizations, 264; politics as, 183; vet- 
eran unfitted for, 184 

Comradeship: of men at arms, 36 ff.; 
disappearance of, after war, 149; 

persists among veterans, 177 ff. 

Conditioning, army controls soldiers 
by, 45 

Confederate veterans, 9 ff.; organiza- 
tions of, 222; pensions, 227 

Conflict, politics as, 183 ff. 

Conservatism: inherent in army, 23; 
of veterans' organizations, 215 

Conscience, soldier has no right to 
have, 25 

Conscientious objectors, former, in 
army, 250 

Conscription: mixture of compulsion 
and consent, 20; inequalities of, 98 

Conscription marriages, 133 

Cooley, Charles Horton, 46 

Cost: of pensions, 216, 222, 223; of re- 
habilitation, 301 

Counterrevolution: after Revolution- 
ary War, 8; in South, 9 ff.; in Ger- 
many, 11 ff. 

Counterrevolutionists, veterans as, 111 

Courage: as greatest virtue, 59; pagan 
cult of, 61; inutility in civilian life, 

Crabtree, J. W., 209 

Craig, Lieut. Robert, 58 

Criminal, function in society of, 44 

Criminality of veterans, 124 ff.: in 
times past, 121 ff.; statistics of, 
World War I, 126; in Bonus Army, 

Cuber, John F., qu. 135 ff. 

Gulp, Dorothy, 212; qu. 206 

Culture: of army, 28 ff.; cultural dif- 
ferences of veterans, 13 

David, King, 3 ff. 

Death, rationalization of, 67 

Delinquency, juvenile, in wartime, 84 

Demagogues, appeal to veterans of, 
104, 188 

Demobilized soldiers of World War 1, 

Democracy, veterans in a, 14 

Dependence of veterans, 121 

Dependents, pensions for, 224 

Detroit: Ku Klux Klan in, 188; race 
riot, 86 

DeVoto, Bernard, qu. 174 ff. 

Disabled veteran: responsibility to, 159 
ff.; pensions for, 222; vocational re- 
habilitation of, 221, 238 ff.; relations 
with women, 164; in home, 289; 
necessity for mourning, 290; as crim- 
inal, 125, 126 ff. 

Disability, need of search for, 237, 266 

Discussion, group, as means of read- 
justing veteran, 295 



Dismissal pay, 225 

Displacement: of hatred, 187; of guilt 

feeling, 64 
Dissociation, of war from civilian life, 


Divorce, in wartime, 131 
Doctors: financial loss in army, 108; of 

Civil War, 160 
Dogs, in army, 65 ff. 
Dollard, John, 50 ff., 67 
Domiciliary care, 220 
Dos Passos, John, qu. 38 
Draft riots of New York, 99 
Dublin, Louis, 165 
Duffield, Marcus, 209-211 

Economic status of veterans, 143 ff., 
256, 278 ff. 

Economic system, effects of war upon, 

Education: advantages of in rehabili- 
tation, 151, 292 ff.; of soldiers, 254; 
soldier's attitude toward, 255; meth- 
ods of, 295 

Elizabethan times, veterans in, 121 ff. 

Emotions, changed pattern of, 93, 174 

Employment, necessity of full, 278 

England: criminality of veterans of 
World War I, 127 

Ennui. See boredom 

Epidemics, in wartime, 86 

Esprit de corps, 24 

Estrangement, of soldiers and civilians, 
30. See alienation 

Ethics, of pensions, 222 

Eversole, Sergeant Buck, 39 

Expendable, soldier is, 19 

Failure, veteran's excuse for, 187 

Family: deterioration of, in war, 83 ff.; 
soldier's severance from, 30; adjust- 
ment of veteran to, 130 ff., 284 ff. 

Farago, Ladislas, 41 

Fascist threat, of Bonus Army, 245. See 
Political threat 

Fatalism, 67 

Fear: control of, in army, 50 ff.; symp- 
toms of, 50; mixed with horror, 50 
ff.; soldier's tolerance of, 67 

Female veteran, 18 

Fine, Benjamin, qu. 294 

Firth, C. H., qu. 121 ff. 

Fitness, cult of, 63 ff. 

Forbes, Charles R., 235 ff. 

Forgetting, of slaughter, by soldiers, 

Forrest, Gen. Nathan B., 10, 148 
Fort Pillow Massacre, 10 
Franklin, Benjamin, 196 

Fraternization of soldiers with enemy, 
46 ff.; in Civil War, 47; in World 
War I, 48 

French and Indian War, veterans of, 

Front-line soldiers, fraternity of, 38 ff. 

Frost, Stanley, 239 

Frustration, of soldiers in army, 71 ff. 

Gellerman, William, 197n, 204, 209 
Germany, officers of World War I, 11 


German army, relations of officers and 
men in, 41 

Gibbs, A. H., qu. 68, 72, 101 

Gibbs, Philip, qu. 48, 64, 67, 68, 93, 
100, 118 

Gibson, Billy, 164 

Glassford, General, 242 

Glasson, William H., 216 

Gold-bricker, 72 

Grand Army of the Republic, 9, 197 
ff.; purposes of, 197; membership of, 
197; tariffs, 198; and pensions, 199; 
pressure politics, 199; child welfare, 
200; reunions with Confederates, 201 

Graves, Robert, 113; qu. 115 

Grinker, Roy R., qu. 54 ff. 

Gross, Hans, 74 

Group-wise assimilation of veterans, 
176 ff. 

Grumbling of soldiers, 24; good offi- 
cer often overlooks, 72 

Guedalla, Philip, 185, qu. 210n . 

Guilt feelings: arise from conflicting 
motives, 52 ff.; solidarity as basis of, 
53 ff. 

Gung Ho raiders, 40 

Hall, Calvin, qu. 139 

Hampton, Wade, 10 

Harding, Warren G., 235 ff. 

Hardness, cult of, 63 ff. 

Harrison, Benjamin, 199 

Hart, Hornell, 286n 

Hatred: insufficient opportunity to ex- 
press, 45; civilian's contrasted with 
soldier's, 45; displacement of veter- 
an's, 187; whom the soldier hates, 
96 ff. 

Head man, in army, 27 

Hedonism, short-term, of soldier, 58 

Heiden, Konrad, lln 

Hemingway, Ernest, 42, 51, 59, 171 ff.; 
qu. 32 ff., 134 ff. f 140 

Henderson, William, 264 

Hierarchy, military function of, 21 

Hines, General, 237 

Hirschfield, Magnus, 133n 



Hitler, Adolf, 12 

Hobhouse, M. A., 127 

Holmes, Oliver W., Jr., 175, 183; qu. 

Home, army is the soldier's, 30 ff. 

Hoover, Herbert, 234 

Horror, mixture of fear and, 50 ff. 

Hospital, life in, 160 

Hospitals, tuberculous veterans in, 165 

Houseman, A. E., 61 

Humanitarianism: and war, 104; vet- 
erans' organizations and, 200, 265 

Humor: of soldiers, 29; of brutality, 
64; of Bonus Army, 243 

Humphrey, N. D., 86 

Idealization, as barrier to communica- 
tion, 31 

Ideals, loss of faith in, 103 
Immigrants, veterans compared to, 180 


Immorality, sexual, in wartime, 133 
Incentive, lacking in army, 56 
Indian Wars, veterans of, 219 
Individuality: flight from in army, 38; 
frustration of sense of, in institu- 
tions, 119 

Indoctrination, limitations of, 53 
Inefficiency, inherent in army, 23 
Inferiority feelings, of disabled vet- 
erans, 162 

Initiation, military, 22 ff. 
Injustice, the essential, to soldier, 105 


Institutionalization, as clue to veter- 
ans' mentality, 119 

Insurance, veterans', 220, 231 

Intellectuals, in army, 27, 73 

Intelligence, effect of army upon, 23 

"Invisible Empire" of Ku Klux Klan, 

Irresponsibility, of soldier, 56 ff. 

Isolation, of soldier, 26 ff.; of veteran, 

Jackson, Stonewall, 20n, 148 
acobs, R. E., qu. 245 
ohnstown, Col. E. S., 40 
ones, Edgar L., qu. 93 
uvenile delinquency in wartime, 84 

Kardiner, Abram, 167 

Khaki Shirts, organized, 245 

Killing: as soldier's business, 45; his 

attitude toward, 64 
Knickerbocker, H. R., qu. 48 ff. 
Ku Klux Klan, 9 ff.', appeal to veter- 
ans of World War II, 188 

Labor market, in wartime, 107 
LaFayette, Marquis de, 196 
Language: military, 28 ff.; changed 

meaning of, in army, 32 
Leaders, loss of community, 85 
Leadership: solidarity as basis of, 40; 

in German army, 41; may prevent 

psychoneurotic breakdown, 167 
Lee, Alfred M., 86 
Lee, Light Horse Harry, 246 
Lee, Gen. Robert E., 72, 20n, 246; qu. 

42, 52, 61 

Lemon, George E., 198-199 
Letters, importance of, to soldier, 30 


Levitt, William H., qu. 282-283 
Lice, and solidarity, 41 
License, accorded to soldier, 57 
Lincoln, Abraham, 47, 61 ff. 
Loans: business, 282; small, 282 
Logan, Gen. John A., qu. 197 
Lorenz, W. F., 126 
Lost causes and solidarity, 42 
Lost Generation, 171 ff. 
Love: denial of, in institutions, 119; 

split between physical and spiritual, 

Lowe, Robert C., qu. 226 ff. 
Loyalty, in army, 38 

MacArthur, Gen. Douglas, 234, 244 

Manwaring, G. B., qu. 39 

Marriages: increase in wartime, 131; of 

veterans, 286. See War marriages.... 
Masquerade, war as, 130 
Maturity and immaturity of veteran, 


McCloskey, Eddie, 244 
McGonegal, Charles, story of, 162 
Meade, Gen. George G., 47, 72 
Meanings, of army world, 27 ff. 
Memories, of fear and horror, 51 
Menninger, Col. W. C., 166 
Men of talk, soldier's attitude toward, 

102 ff. 

Mexican War, veterans of, 219 
Military service as excuse for failure, 


Military skills, useless for peace, 92 ff. 
Mitchell, Attorney-General, 242 
Money, soldier's attitude toward, 56 
Morale: defined, 24; nature of, 78; of 

army, rests upon consent, 78; of 

army, collapses after peace, 77 ff.; 

collapse of in army of World War 

I, 78; declines first among civilians, 

88; stages of, in civilian population, 

Morality: of soldier, 56 ff.; relaxed in 



wartime, 83; confusion of, in post- 
war world, 114; sex ratio and, 140 

Mourning, necessity for disabled, 290 

Murphy, Prentice, 242 

Mutiny, in American armies, 8 

Napoleon, 185 

Neglect, of veterans in post-war period, 

Negroes, and aggression in own group, 

Negro veteran, the, 110 ff. 

Neutrality, essential in a veterans' pro- 
gram, 260 

Newburgh Addresses, 7 

New York, veterans' service center in, 

Novels, uses of, 95 

Objectives, of rehabilitation, 259 ff. 
Obscenity, as reaction to denial of 

love, 120 

Officers: social origin of, 147; in Ger- 
man army, 41 

Ogburn, W. F., qu. 131 ff., 141 
Orator, fails to reach soldier, 32 
Organizations: accentuate a common 
trait, 194; gains of, 195; vices of, 
195; basis of veterans', 193 ff.; con- 
tribution of, to society, 213; in other 
nations, 196 

Orphans' homes, and the G.A.R., 200 
Over-conformity, as solution to con- 
flict with army, 73 

Pagan cult of courage, 61 

Paper work, of army, 143 ff. 

Participation, as key to assimilation, 
181, 262 

Pathos, veteran covered with, 189 

Patriotism, of veteran, 194 ff.; and ed- 
ucation, 209 

Paul, James L., qu. 200 ff. 

Pauperized veterans, 169, 267 

Pension agents, 199 

Pensions, 216 ff.; Colonial, 216; Revo- 
lutionary War, 217; War of 1812, 
218; Mexican War, 219; Indian 
Wars, 219; Civil War, 220; War with 
Spain, 220; Philippine Insurrection, 
220; Boxer Rebellion, 220; special, 
220; World War I, 220; ethics of, 
222; State, 226; Confederate, 227; 
and psychoneurotics, 168; and 
G.A.R., 197 ff. 

Percussion, sympathy of: 46, ff.; in 
Civil War, 47; in World War I, 48; 
as threat to civilians, 49 

Pettit, Walter, 272 

Pets, of soldiers, 65 ff. 
Poling, Daniel A., qu. 68 ff. 
Political threat, veterans as a, 13 ff., 

182 ff.; varies with nature of society, 


Politicians, soldier's hatred of, 185 
Politics: analyzed, 183 ff.; soldier's lack 

of interest in, 28 

Post-war marriages, instability of, 139 
Post-war planning, and veterans, 261 
Post-war youth, relations of veterans 

with, 154 
Powell, Talcott, 106, 171, 231, 245; qu. 

Pressure politics: and the G.A.R., 199; 

and the American Legion, 212 
Prices, paid by soldiers for luxuries, 


Prisoners of war, 76 
Prisons. See Criminality of veterans 
Prison stupor, 75; names for, in army, 


Professional veterans, 170 
Program, veterans', 298 ff. 
Property, soldier's attitude toward, 56 

ff., 145 ff. 

Protectionism and pensions, 197 
Psychoneurosis: basis of, 52 ff., 166; 

manifested in later years, 55; pen- 
sions for, 224 
Psychoneurotic veterans: 165 ff., 268; 

of World War I, 166; methods of 

dealing with, 167 ff.; symptoms of, 

Public health, and disabled veteran, 

Pyle, Ernie, qu. 33 ff., 39, 66 

Race riots, in wartime, 86 

Rackets, preying upon veterans,' 276 

"Rankers," 148 

Rasmussen, Major, 40 

Rationalization: of death, 67; of dis- 
ability, 161; of conscription, 20 

Readjustment: double nature of, 113 
ff.; of normal veteran, 173 

Rebellion, of soldier: against army, 
23 ff., 71 ff.; against institutional life, 

Recruit, is transformed into soldier, 
22 ff. 

Red Badge of Courage, The, 52 

Reform, stopped by war, 87 

Regimentation: demanded by group 
living, 22; makes a recruit into a 
soldier, 22; costs of, 23 

Rehabilitation: every soldier in need 
of, 113 ff.; art of, 15, 305 ff.; costs of, 
301, principles of, 259 ff.; in local 


community, 270 ff.; through educa- 
tion, 151 ff.; 292, vocational, 151, 
161, 221 ff., 234, 238 ff., of psycho- 
neurotic veteran, 168 

Relief: veterans on, 226 ff.; State, 226; 
in urban and rural areas, 229 

Religion: soldiers attitude toward, 68 
ff.; reorientation of soldier in post- 
war years, 70 

Remarque, Erich Maria, qu. 92, 94 ff., 
101, ff., 115 ff., 120, 135, 149, 154 

Research, on veteran problem, 307 

Resentment, residues of, 110 

Reserve officers, attitudes of profes- 
sionals toward, 148 

Responsibility, personal, lack of in 
army, 57 

Restlessness, of veterans, 127 ff. 

Revolutionaries, veterans as, 110 ff. 

Revolutionary army, of U.S., morale 
of, 80 

Revolutionary War: veterans of, 6 
ff.; 217, as criminals, 125 

Riots, draft, in New York City, 99 

Riots, race, in Detroit, 86 

Ritual, in army, 21 

Robertson, Roy, 243 

Rohm, Ernst, 12 

Remains, Jules, qu. 38 ff., 94, 96, 146 

Roosevelt, Franklin D., 221 

Roosevelt, Theodore, 32; and Rough 
Riders, 40 

Rosenbaum, Betty, 125 ff. 

Rosenberg, Anna M., 274 

Rumors, in army, 27 

Russia, disturbed by veterans, 11 

Sadistic-aggressive tendencies: defined, 
44; in modern life, 44; how ex- 
pressed, 44; loss of control by army, 
46 ff.; of aviators on leave, 54; of 
disabled veterans, 160; in traumatic 
neurosis; 167, as political force, 187 

Sandburg, Carl, qu. 10, 47 

Saroyan, William, 21 

Schmeckebier, Laurence, 216 

Schools, deteriorate in war time, 84 

Seeger, Alan, 48 

Sex ratio, and morality, 140 

Sexuality, release of, in war, 130 

Sharing, in army, 57 

Shays' Rebellion, 8 

Shell-shock: every veteran mildly shell- 
shocked, 115, basis of, 52 ff. 

Sherriff, Robert C., qu. 48 

Skills, applicability to civilian life, 143 


Social class, denned, 147. See Class 


Social problem, veterans as, 13 ff. 

Social workers, need for skills of, 284 
ff., 268 ff. 

Soldier, as specialized human being, 

Soldier, army controls by conditioning, 

Soldier, morality of, 56 ff. 

"Soldiering" on job, 24, 72 

Soldier's attitudes, basis of, 63 ff. 

Solidarity: nature and functions of, 
36 ff.; as source of values, 36; and 
causes, 36; desire for, frustrated in 
civilian life, 37; sense of, in army, 
38; of front-line soldiers, 38 ff.; ex- 
pressed by Uriah the Hittite, 39; as 
basis of guilt feelings, 53 ff.; per- 
sists among veterans, 177 ff.; disap- 
pears at end of war, 79; veterans 
yearn to recapture, 42 ff.; organiza- 
tions commemorate, 194 

Songs, of soldiers, 30 

Spanish -American War, veterans of, 

Spiegel, John P., qu. 54 ff. 

Sports, and the American Legion, 209 

Stallings, Laurence, 159, 161, qu. 97 ff. 

State, expansion of powers in war- 
time, 82 

States, veterans' benefits, 232 

Status of veteran: general, 178 ff.; eco- 
nomic, 143 ff. 

Stein, Gertrude, 171 

Stein, Lorenz von, 105 

Stimson, Henry L., qu. 89 ff. 

Storm troopers, veterans as, 13 ff. 

Strikes, attitudes of soldiers toward, 
88 ff. 

Student, veteran as, 151 ff. 

Studies, veteran's loss of interest in, 
152 ff. 

Sumner, William Graham, 197 

Sunday, Billy, 32 

Sutherland, E. H., 124 

Swiss Guards, eulogy upon, 60 

Swivel-chair heroes, 99 

Sympathy of percussion: general, 46 
ff.; in Civil War, 47; in World War 
I, 48; as threat to civilians, 49; in 
post-war years, 201 

Tannenbaum, Frank, 194 
Tanner, Corporal James, 17 In, 199 
Tarawa, incident upon, 58 
Tariffs, and pensions, 197 
Teachers: loss of, in wartime, 84, vet- 
eran and, 153 
Teaching, veterans in, 280 
"Temporary gentlemen," 148 



Thompson, James Westfall, qu. 114 
Time: meaning of, in army, 57, as 

necessity for readjustment, 127 ff. 
Tobacco, role of in army, 75 
Traumatic neurosis, 167 ff. 
Truce, unspoken, of war, 86 
Tuberculosis, of veterans, 165 
Types of veterans, 159 ff. 
Types, uses of ideal types, 18 
Tyson, Helen Glenn, 242 

Understanding, as means of rehabili- 
tation, 306 

Unemployment compensation, 281 

Uniform: as basis of discipline, 22; as 
focal point of rebellion, 73 

United Confederate Veterans, 202 

United States, wars of, 14 

Uriah, the Hittite, 3 ff., 39 

Vagts, Alfred, 105, 179n, 184, 185 

Values, confusion of, in post-war 
world, 113 

Van Doren, Carl, qu. 217 

Van Paassen, Pierre, qu. 116 ff., 152 ff. 

Veteranology, proposed science of, 308 

Veterans' Bureau, scandals in, 235 ff. 

Veterans of Foreign Wars, 203 

Veterans' organizations: and assimila- 
tion, 263; administer relief, 228; and 
disabled veterans, 235; list of, 228. 
See Grand Army of the Republic; 
American Legion 

Veterans of World War II, 246 ff.: 
backgrounds of, 248; dissatisfied with 
home communities, 251; former 
pacifists, proportion of, 249; num- 
bers, 253; age groups of, 254; school- 
ing of, 254; attitude toward educa- 
tion, 255; economic background of, 
256; married, 257 

Veterans' preference, 231; rationale of, 

Veterans' Service Center, 274 
Victory celebrations, 80, 103 
Vocational guidance, 281 
Vocational training, 221 
Vocational rehabilitation, 151, 238 ff. 
Von Steuben, Baron, 196 

Wakeman, Frederic, 51, 55, 58 ff. 
War aims, limitations of, 53; meaning- 
less to soldier, 59 
War of Independence, veterans of, 6 

ff., 217, 125 

War of 1812, veterans of, 218 
War brides of World War II, 131 ff. 
War marriages, 136, 286 
War-workers, behavior of, 85; wages 

of, 107 ff. 

Washington, George, 7 ff., 216 ff. 
Waskow, Henry T., Captain, death of, 

33 #. 

Waters, W. W., 243 ff. 
Weber, Gustavus A., 216 
Wellington, 185, 210 
What Price Glory? 97 ff. 
Will, annihilation of, in army, 18 ff. 
Wilson, Woodrow, 234 
Wines, F. H., qu. 125 
Women, emancipated in wartime, 83, 

Words: fails to reach soldier, 32 ff.; 

use of, in army and in civilian life, 

32 ff.; meaninglessness of, 59; lack 

of meaning of abstract words, 69; 

loss of facility of using, by soldier, 


Work, veterans' adjustment to, 144 ff. 
World War I veterans: number, 11; 

activities of, 11 ff.; criminality of, 

126 ff. 
Wounded, fraudulent, of Elizabethan 

times, 123 

Wounds, self-inflicted, 73 
W.P.A., veterans' preference on, 230 
Wright, Quincy, lln, 14n; qu. 106 





ans organizations reeducating veter- 
ansthe lures of demagogues to cap- 
ture the veteran's vote his struggle 
to get a satisfactory job the delicate 
question of treating psychoneurotic 
veterans and many others. 

Will a "Veterans' Deal" replace the 
New Deal? Will there be another 
Bonus Army in the 1950s? 

This book does not presume to give 
all the answers. The author hopes 
that it will be a firebell in the night 
to wake up America now to the vet- 
eran problem before it descends upon 
us in all its fury. 

W War I veteran, has for the past 
two decades been a professional stu- 
dent of war and its effects upon sol- 
diers and upon society. Author of 
War in the Twentieth Century, War 
and the Family, The Family, and 
other standard works, he is Associate 
Professor at Barnard College, Colum- 
bia University. Waller was born on 
a farm near Murphysboro, 111., grand- 
son of a Civil War surgeon who 
served at Lookout Mountain and Mis- 
sionary Ridge, and son of a Spanish 
War veteran. He has taught at a 
leading military academy and at the 
Universities of Pennsylvania, Ne- 
braska, Colorado, and Harvard. He 
is a frequent lecturer, and a contrib- 
utor to The Saturday Review, The 
Reader's Digest, etc. 







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